In the second week of January, when the whole world is recovering from the New Year hangover, the state of Tamil Nadu begins preparing for Pongal. This is a festival of prosperity, family and new beginnings. And here is all you need to know about it.
What is it?
Pongal is a four day harvest festival. It is primarily a Hindu festival and it is celebrated in temples with bells and drums. Rice, the staple of Southern India is prepared on a large scale, prayer ceremonies are performed in temples and in homes, Kolam designs are made and tributes in the form of vegetables and spices are offered to the Gods. This tribute is then offered to devotees as prasadam.
When is it?
The annual festival is celebrated according to the Hindu calendar and falls on the 16th of January.
Where is it?
The festival is specific to Tamil Nadu and guests can participate in the festivities that take place in any local, Hindu homestay.
The four days in detail
The first day is called Bhogi when old clothes and materials are burnt to mark a new beginning.
The second day is Pongal when fresh milk is boiled at dawn and is allowed to spill over. The social aspect of the day involves preparation of traditional delicacies and visiting homes of friends and family to offer greetings.
The third day is Mattu Pongal when cattle is thanked and celebrated for ploughing the lands and providing people with food.
On Kanum Pongal, which is the last day of Pongal, the family goes out together for a picnic.
Where to stay
Staying in a family homestay is the best way to observe and even participate in the Pongal festival. Find out more about our homestays in Tamil Nadu.
Find out about the homestay experience and don't forget to check out our ideas on things to do in India or browse our India homestays.