Tamil Nadu is home to a proud and vibrant community known as Tamilians. One of the most significant festivals celebrated by Tamilians is Pongal, which takes place during the Tamil month of Thai (January-February). Pongal is a major Hindu festival celebrated not only in Tamil Nadu but also in other Indian states. In Western India, it is known as Makara Sankranti.
Pongal holds immense importance as it is a harvest festival that marks the gratitude of cultivators and farmers towards nature’s abundant blessings. The festival is dedicated to celebrating the bountiful harvest and expressing gratitude to the Sun God, Lord Indra, and the cattle, which play a crucial role in agriculture.
In Udumalpet, various streets come alive with cultural games and activities during the Pongal celebrations. These cultural events showcase the rich heritage and traditions of Tamil Nadu. People participate in traditional games such as uri adithal (pot-breaking), taming the bull, and kolam competitions. These activities bring communities together and create a festive atmosphere filled with joy and excitement.
During Pongal, the highlight is the preparation of a special dish called Pongal, which is made using freshly harvested rice, jaggery, and other ingredients. The dish is cooked in earthen pots on open fires, symbolizing prosperity and abundance. People gather around to witness the boiling over of the rice, which is considered an auspicious moment.
Apart from the cultural games and traditional dishes, Pongal also involves the exchange of gifts, wearing new clothes, and offering prayers at temples. It is a time for families and friends to come together, rejoice, and strengthen their bonds.
The celebration of Pongal reflects the rich agricultural heritage of Tamil Nadu and the deep-rooted connection between nature and the people. It is a time of gratitude, unity, and merriment, as the entire community comes together to celebrate the blessings of the harvest season.
So, if you find yourself in Udumalpet during the Pongal festival, immerse yourself in the cultural games, relish the traditional dishes, and experience the vibrant festivities that highlight the spirit and joy of this auspicious celebration.
The first day of pongal is called bhogi. In this night people create kollam at enterence of the houses. In this day people also purchase for next day celebration. such as turmeric, sugarcane ,banana, coconuts and pumpkins.
On the auspicious day of Pongal, also known as Thai Pongal or Surya Pongal, people in Udumalpet and across Tamil Nadu wake up early in the morning to begin their celebrations. One of the first things they do is visit the Vinayagar temple, also known as the Ganesha temple, to seek blessings for a prosperous year ahead.
During Pongal, special attention is given to the traditional pot used for cooking the Pongal dish. The pot, known as the “Pongal Paanai,” is decorated with turmeric and kumkum (vermilion). These vibrant colors not only enhance the appearance of the pot but also hold auspicious significance. The turmeric is considered to bring purity and prosperity, while the kumkum represents good fortune.
People in Udumalpet take pride in creating intricate and beautiful designs on the Pongal pot. These designs, known as “kolam” or “rangoli,” are made using rice flour or colored powders. Kolams are considered a form of art and are believed to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits. The designs often feature traditional motifs and patterns, adding a touch of cultural richness to the festive atmosphere.
The beautifully adorned Pongal pot symbolizes abundance and is an integral part of the Pongal celebrations. It is used to cook the special dish known as Pongal, which is made using freshly harvested rice, jaggery, lentils, and ghee. As the Pongal dish is prepared, people gather around the pot, offering prayers and chanting hymns, while eagerly waiting for it to boil over. The moment when the rice overflows from the pot is considered highly auspicious and is greeted with joyous cheers and applause.
The decorations on the Pongal pot and the act of cooking the Pongal dish serve as a way for people to express their gratitude to the Sun God, Lord Indra, and the cattle for their contributions to a bountiful harvest. It is a time for reflection, thanksgiving, and celebration of the abundance that nature has bestowed upon them.
So, as you visit Udumalpet during the Pongal festival, take a moment to witness the beautifully adorned Pongal pots and appreciate the significance behind their decorations. Experience the joy and enthusiasm of the people as they gather in temples, create kolam designs, and partake in the traditional Pongal celebrations, cherishing the rich cultural heritage of Tamil Nadu.
On the third day of Pongal, known as Maattu Pongal or Cow Pongal, a unique celebration takes place in the villages surrounding Udumalpet. This day is dedicated to showing gratitude to cows, which are considered sacred and valued for their contributions to agriculture and farming.
In the village fields, a rectangular shape is dug out in the ground, known as the “theppakullam.” On two corners of the theppakullam, sugarcane stalks are fixed. People throw coins into the theppakullam, which is partially filled with water. At the center of the back side of the theppakullam, each sugarcane stalk is tied with a decorative thread, known as “modakathaan kodi.”
Seven stones are placed in the theppakullam, representing the seven Kannimaar gods, believed to possess great power and protect the surroundings. The highlight of the celebration is the release of cows into the path created by the sugarcane and modakathaan kodi. The cows walk along this path, symbolizing their significance in agriculture and their role in sustaining the livelihood of farmers.
As the cows pass through the theppakullam, people collect the coins that were previously thrown. It is believed that collecting these coins brings good luck and prosperity. This tradition showcases the deep respect and reverence that the farming community holds for their cattle.
Additionally, in the nearby village of Pethapampatti, farmers participate in a ritual at the Mala Kovil temple, dedicated to their pets. They bring toys that represent their beloved pets and offer them as a symbol of their unconditional love and gratitude. This ritual emphasizes the bond between farmers and their animals, recognizing their role as companions and helpers in their agricultural activities.
Maattu Pongal is a celebration that honors the integral role of cows in the rural economy and expresses appreciation for the animals that contribute to the livelihoods of farmers. It is a vibrant and joyous occasion, filled with traditional rituals and festivities that highlight the deep cultural roots and agricultural heritage of the region.
The fourth day festival called kanu pongal. On this day, udumalpet celebrate grandly in maalayamman temple which is located in pethapampatti. This is 25 km away by udumalpet. On this people’s also gift with this loved ones like flowers, plants, calendars, fruits and god statues, etc.
Author : Pooranima Devi