Third wave or not, It is Pongal time in Delhi!
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Third wave or not, It is Pongal time in Delhi!

It is an agricultural festival that honours the Hindu Sun God 'Surya'

Third wave or not, It is Pongal time in Delhi!

In Tamil Nadu, the gist of the saying is that every year, from  mid-July to mid-January, the festive season lasts for six months, culminating in Pongal. This is the time of year when various festivals bring people together to rejoice.

While Pongal is mainly celebrated today, that is on January 14, in Tamil Nadu, in Delhi, several people are celebrating Pongal tomorrow on January 15, 2022.

Pongal is mainly celebrated in the countryside as it is an agricultural festival that honours the Hindu Sun God Surya. Cattle are decorated with flower garlands and given bananas to eat. However, a large community of south Indians living in Delhi told us how they celebrate Pongal amid pandemic inside their houses with all the rituals and traditions.

The last few years have been challenging for everybody. Everyone's routines have been thrown out of whack, from tiny tots to the elderly and little happiness of meeting our loved  ones during these festivals.

Also read | Makar Sankranti 2022: Try these traditional snacks from all over India

With the government's regulations and restrictions on celebrations and social gatherings, festivals are expected to wash out. Religious festivals are often not open to the general public, so they can be a low-key affair.

But, during all these years, we have learned to celebrate festivals differently. Other than doing it on a larger scale, we also understood the value of our close knits, especially our family.

The ritual of boiling freshly harvested rice with milk and jaggery in a new clay pot until it overflows gave rise to the word Pongal, which means "spilling over." This represents a good start and the Earth's steady heating from the sun.

Subha Laxmi, an administrative manager at LIC, says, "Everybody is celebrating Pongal at their homes only because of the current situation; we have a particular utensil that we use only to cook Pongal in it. We have this turmeric and ginger plant that we tie around the vessel, and put Chandan, kumkum on it. After all these preparation, we finally cook Pongal. It is rice and milk together. We let the milk overflow on the stove as it is a ritual and considered 'shubh'. Basically, this bhog we make is for Surya devta and make rangoli for it. We all gather together wherever the sun rays come and make rangoli in honour of the Sun god".

When asked about her family and relatives living in Tamil Nadu, she says, "Yes, I do have relatives living in Chennai, and we used to celebrate Pongal at Chennai, as on the day of Pongal, we ask for the blessing of our elders. Still, unfortunately from the past few years, it's not the same. So while living in Delhi, I call my close relatives and friends for the celebrations with all the fantastic dishes we cook during this festival".

Chitra Vishwanath, 50, an Entrepreneur, says, "I celebrate Pongal at my place only, and after celebrating and doing all the rituals, I usually go out and give food and prasad to my near and dear ones and also wish through WhatsApp and calls."

She further explained to us all the 4 days of Pongal briefly. Bhogi is the name given on the first day of Pongal. It is a day when old belongings are cleaned and discarded to symbolise a new beginning. New clothes are worn, and houses are decked up in the festive spirit.

Surya Pongal is celebrated on the second day, which is the primary day of Pongal. The Sun God is honoured on this day. At the entrance to one's home, colourful decorative floor patterns called kolam are drawn, and each household cooks a pot of fresh rice with milk at auspicious times. Family members shout out happily as the milk boils freely over the pot.

"Pongalo Pongal"! After the Pongal is offered to the Sun God, they feast on several Pongal dishes prepared especially for the day.

Maatu Pongal is the third day of Pongal. This day is dedicated to honouring and worshipping cattle (Maatu) in recognition of the work  they perform – ploughing the land. Cows are bathed and garlanded with multicoloured beads, flowers, and bells. Thanksgiving prayers will be held in Singapore for the cattle at some Indian-owned dairy farms.

Kaanum Pongal is the fourth day of Pongal. On this day, the importance of community and strengthening ties is emphasised. Families get together to eat together. Younger members of the family seek the blessings of their elders. Traditional Indian folk dances such as mayilattam and kolattam are also performed today.

Seema Shobha Jayanshankar,  57, working in services, says, "Firstly, we make Alpana outside our door, Alpana is made up of rice powder. We also outline the alpana with red powder, and we make it on the stove where wewill cook the Pongal. Alongside Pongal, we also make vada, coconut rice etc. We do not use ginger and garlic as the food will be offered to God."

She further says, "We make vadas especially of lentils and other auspicious dishes that we, later offer to God Surya and  chants mantra to God. We also give the prasad to our family and friendly who live in Delhi, as a large part of my family has been living in Delhi for many  years and I don't have close relatives living in Tamil Nadu. So this is how I celebrate Pongal with my family in Delhi".