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Pongal is undoubtedly one of the most popular harvest festivals celebrated in South India. Coming in January on an annual basis, the onset of Pongal marks the beginning of the Uttarayan and local new year. Mainly celebrated in Tamil Nadu, this four-day-long festival is typically commemorated for showcasing our gratitude towards nature for bestowing its bounties upon us. 

And did you know that the literal meaning of Pongal means 'spilling over' and it had been named like that essentially because of the tradition of boiling rice in a pot until it starts to overflow? Yes, interesting isn't it?

History of Pongal

Being an ancient festival, Pongal traces its roots back to the Sangam age ranging from 200 B.C. to 300 A.D. Originally Pongal was celebrated as a Dravidian Harvest Festival and also has been mentioned in various Sanskrit Puranas and other sacred texts. The historians, on the other hand, identify Pongal with the Thai Un and Thai Niradal festivals which are believed to have been celebrated during the Sangam Age.  

Also Read: This festival celebrates the birth of a phenomenal being to bring peace on Earth

The Legend of Shiva

According to a legend, it is believed that once upon a time Lord Shiva had asked his bull, Basava, to visit Earth and ask the residents of Earth to take an oil massage and a bath on a daily basis. However, due to some communication gap, Basava told the Earth residents to eat daily and then have an oil bath only once in an entire month. 

When Lord Shiva got to know about this mistake, he became very angry with Basava. Then in a rage of anger, Lord Shiva cursed and banished Basava to Earth forever. As per the curse, he would forever have to plough the fields and then also help people produce more and more food. This is one major reason that, why Pongal is associated with cattle.

The Legend of Lord Indra

According to another legend, it is believed that while Lord Krishna was still in his younger days of childhood, he decided to teach Lord Indra a lesson. This was so because Lord Indra had become quite arrogant after becoming the king of all deities. So, as per his plan, he asked all the cowherds of the village to completely stop worshipping Lord Indra. And when Lord Indra came to know about this, naturally he became very ferocious. In his raging fit of anger, he sent his clouds to the village for wreaking havoc. Seeing the perpetual rainstorm, Lord Krishna uplifted the entire Mount Govardhan. Soon, Lord Indra realized his mistake and rectified it by stopping the clouds and, Krishna allowed the people to celebrate the day in honour of Indra which we today call Pongal.

Major attractions of Pongal 

There are various traditional customs which take place in the process of welcoming the year. From decorating the houses to wearing new clothes, from making various delicious recipes to meeting the closed ones, the festival is just full of love and warmth.

The First Day of Pongal

The day one of Pongal is celebrated honouring Lord Indra, who was the rain God. On the first day, as per the ritual, people toss away all the useless items of the household in a bonfire that is essentially made up of wood and cow dung cakes. 

The Second Day of Pongal

The second day of Pongal is known as Thai Pongal which celebrates Sun God. On the second day of Pongal, people typically take an early morning bath. After the bath, people prepare a traditional design using kolam - a lime powder. After this, a special ritual is followed in which an earthen pot filled with rice and milk are boiled together in the open. Apart from this, other items like sugarcane sticks, bananas and coconuts are also offered. 

The Third Day of Pongal

And coming on to the third day of Pongal, cows are worshipped and adorned with garlands and bells. 

The Fourth Day of Pongal

The fourth and the last day of the Pongal is known as the Kaanum Pongal in the local language. Typically on this day, the leftover Pongal dishes along with the betel nuts and betel leaves are placed on a turmeric leaf in the open. Mainly girls perform this ritual for the prosperity of their brothers.

How to Reach

By Air. Flying to Chennai would be a convenient option for you. The Chennai Airport handles frequent direct flights from various Indian cities like Delhi, Pune, Mumbai. After deboarding, you can take a cab, auto or some other means of transportation to reach your destination.  

By Road. Chennai is very well connected with other cities through its well-maintained road network. You can take your own vehicle or if prefer, take an interstate bus to reach Chennai. From cities like Delhi, Pune, Chandigarh, Kolkata you will need to cover a distance of 2,210 km, 1,194 km, 2,460 km and 1,674 km approximately. 

By Train. Chennai Central, Chennai Egmore, and Tambaram railway station are the major railheads. These have good connectivity with other Indian cities like Delhi, Pune, Mumbai, Chandigarh. After deboarding at one of these train stations, you would need to further take a cab or an auto to reach here. 

The overall connectivity via road is quite good. The Southern Railways has a network which covers a very large area of the Southern Peninsula of India.

You can plan your trip and create your own route to the city with Adotrip’s technically driven circuit planner. Click here


  • 3 Days

  • Traditional

  • Tamil Nadu
  • Festival Date

    15 January - 18 January 2020

  • Venue

    Tamil Nadu

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