Why is Pongal not celebrated in Kerala

Pongal Festival - Trade shows and festivals in India

Pongal is a four day long harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu, a southern state of India. For as long as people have been planting and gathering food, there has been some form of harvest festival. Pongal, one of the most important popular Hindu festivals of the year. This four-day festival of Thanksgiving to Nature takes its name from the Tamil word meaning "boil" and is held in the month of Thai (January-February) for the season when rice and other cereals, sugar cane and turmeric (an essential ingredient in Tamil cooking ) are harvested.

Mid-January is an important time in the Tamil calendar. The Harvest Festival, Pongal, usually falls on the 14th or 15th January and is the quintessential "Tamil Festival". Pongal is a harvest festival, a traditional occasion for giving thanks to nature, for celebrating the life cycles that give us grain. Tamilians say "Thai pirandhaal vazhi pirakkum" and believe that gnarled family problems will be solved with the advent of the Thai Tamil month, which begins on Pongal Day. This is traditionally the month of weddings. This is not a surprise in a largely rural community - the wealth gained from a good harvest form creating the economic basis for expensive family such as weddings.

The legend behind the celebrations
There are few interesting legends behind the Pongal celebrations. The most popular among them related to the celebrations of the first day of the Pongal Festival goes like this - Lord Krishna raised the Govardhan Mountain on his little finger to protect his people and save them from being washed away by the rains and floods.

According to others, the third day of Pongal is celebrated because Lord Shiva once asked Nandi, his bull, to go to earth and deliver his message to the people once a month - to have a daily oil bath and food. But Nandi got it all mixed up when he delivered the message, and told the people that Shiva asked them to have an oil bath once a month and eat every day. Shiva was displeased and Nandi declared that since the people would now have to grow more grain, Nandi would have to stay on earth and help them plow the fields.

Mattu Pongal is also called "Canoe Pongal" and women pray for the welfare of their brothers. This is similar to the festivals of Raksha Bandhan some states of northern India.

Rituals followed
A typical traditional Pongal celebration has several rituals attached to it. The place where the pongal puja is to be conducted is cleaned and lubricated with manure a day before the festival. People generally choose an open courtyard for this purpose.

"Kolams" (Rangoli) generally lined with rice flour are special to the occasion. The idea behind using the rice flour is that the insects would feed on it and bless the household. In the center of it, a lump of cow dung holds a five-petal gourd flower, which is viewed as a symbol of fertility and an offering of love to the presiding deity. The houses are also cleaned, painted and decorated in a similar way. Kolams (Rangoli) are made in the front gardens of houses and new clothes for the whole family are bought to mark the festivities.

The tempting recipes
The sweet rice, known as "pongal", is cooked in a new pottery pot in the same place where puja is to be made. Fresh turmeric and ginger are tied around this pot. Then a delicious preparation of rice, moong dal, jaggery and milk is cooked in a pot on an open fire. This pongal, according to ritual, is made to boil out of the pot and spill. Pongal, once ready, is offered to God first, on a new banana leaf along with other traditional delicacies such as vadas, payasam, etc. Besides this, sugar cane, grain, sweet potatoes, etc. are also offered to the Sun god.