Author – Padmaja Vangala
Sankranti means Transit of Sun from one Rasi to another Rasi. There are Twelve Sankrant’s in a year. Among them, Makara Sankranti is most important and auspicious. Pongal is a Four-day festival celebrated by Hindus. First day is Bhogi/Pongal, Second day is Makara Sankranti, Third day is Kanuma and last day is Mukkanuma.
Importance of Pongal Festival:
Bhogi/Pongal is the last day of Dhanurmasam and the first day of the Pongal festival which is as extremely auspicious as Uttarayan Punyakalam. Bhishma Pithamaha is a great worrier in Mahabharata. He obtained Ischa-Mrityu boon from his father Shantanu. He laid 58 days on the arrow bed to depart his body on a chosen day in the Uttarayanam period. This year, Bhogi/Pongal is celebrated with Vaikuntha Ekadashi. Before sunrise, people gather around the bonfire (open-air fire), offer dry cow dung with plum fruit, sugarcane pieces, and coin. People enjoy singing and dancing with traditional folk songs.
Drawing Rangoli with different colors on the floor is specifically known as Dhanurmasam Rangoli or Sankranti Muggulu or Marghazi Kolam. Rangoli is drawn an entire month of Dhanurmasam and decorated Rangoli with Cow dung, flowers, fruits, grass, (Durva), and plum fruits. Bommala Koluvu means arranging God and Goddess idols which depict the story of Hindu Epic. It is compulsory to purchase a new idol every year. It is displayed for three days and the visitors are offered fruits and snacks. This custom is more popular in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. There is also another custom known as Bhogi Pandulu, a mixture of plum fruits, chocolates, biscuits, and coins dropped on the heads of children for good health. Children will enjoy collecting these items. At the end of Dhanurmasam, Godha Kalyanam is performed with Sri Ranganatha Swamy at Srirangam Temple, Tamilnadu, and also at most of the Vishnu temples.
All recipes are prepared with new rice. Both sweet and hot delicious Pongal (Kichidi) is prepared with New Rice and Moongdal as Naivedyam to Lord Vishnu. Mixed vegetable curry and Bajra Roti is prepared. Likewise, traditional recipes are made and distributed among relatives and friends. It is known as the Lohri festival in Punjab. It is a state festival in Andhra Pradesh. Son-in-law is honored with New clothes and gifts. In North India, it is known as Bhogali Bhiu and Magha Mela. Pongal is also the most important festival in Karnataka, Telangana, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, and Tamilians in Sri Lanka. In Kerala, it is Maghara Valaku. In Assam, it is Bihu, and in Maharashtra, it is Maghi Sankranti.
The second day is known as Makara Sankranti. It is followed on solar cycle and coincides with Gregorian calendar. Every year, it comes on the same date except the leap year. Makara Sankranti means transit of Surya Bhagwan from Dhanurasi (Sagittarius) to Makara Rasi (Capricorn). On this day, Lord Sun is worshipped with recitals of Surya Atharvasirsham and Aditya Hrudayam. In some parts of India, Shattilaprayog is more prevalent which means Seaseme seeds (Til) are used in six forms, i.e., TilSnan, TilDharan, TilDana, TilBakshan, TilHomam, and TilTarpan.
It means, applying Til oil and Til powder paste to the body, adding Til seeds in water for the shower, donating (daanam) tilladdu, eating tilladdu, performing TilHoman, offering TilTarpan. Before sunrise, people take shower to follow their customs. It’s believed that eating Seaseme sweet prepared with jaggery would resolve conflict with each other. In Maharashtra and Karnataka, the exchange of TilSweet is compulsory along with greeting each other to speak good and be good forever and ever. Children enjoy flying kites and they have competitions among themselves. We can enjoy looking at the sky filled with multi-color kites. In Telangana and Maharashtra, married women follow Vratam known as Bhogi Vida and Sankranti Nomu. They offer new utensils to married women (SuhasiniPooja).
Haridasu sankirtan’s about Lord Hari (Vishnu). Bull is decorated and worshipped as a mark of Harvestor. This is the last day of Ayyappa Mandala Deeksha and in the evening, Ayyappa Paddi Pooja is also performed to honor Makara Jyothi. People bathe in Holy rivers. The largest crowd is gathered at Gangasagar Mela.
The third day is known as Kanuma. It is also called Kari. Pongal is Harvest Festival and Farmer’s Glory. This day, with due respect Bull and Agriculture, accessories are cleaned and worshipped as Lord. Special dishes like Urad dal Vada and Curd Urad dal Vada are prepared and offered to god and elders. People do not travel on this day.
The Last day is called Mukkanuma. Farmers pray their homage to the soil, Air, Water, Sun, and fire to protect and improve prosperity. Here ends the Family Time Festival and people fill their native places with joy.
Pongal Festival dates in Plava Year:
- Bhogi Pongal- 13.1.2022
- Makara Sankranti- 14.1.2022
- Kanuma- 15.1.2022
- Mukanumma- 16.1.2022