Narrow mud streets, all cleanly swept and wiped with cow dung. Houses that are closely built sharing common walls.Brightly colored rangolis stretching through the entire width of the houses, competeting to capture the eyes of the people.
Hey, wait! Want to visit my village and know the complete scenario of how we celebrate pongal, the harvest festival of our land? Come on then, be ready for a long post. Walk back with me to the month of marghazi. Marghazi is the tamil month prior to the month of thai. The day one of the month, thai is celebrated as pongal festival. But the festive fever will begin from marghazi. The month marghazi is considered as dedicative month for worship. All would start early in the morning in this month , go for temples and so ladies would lit lamps in their house fronts and put beautiful rangolis all thro’ the month. (Rangoli is an art form of drawing patterns on the floor with rice flour . This was done in olden days so as to feed the poor creatures like ants and birds ) Also they would start their ‘annual mega cleaning camp’. They would clean every inch of the house and repaint the walls. It would be like a ‘complete make over’. Also on a particular auspicious day in marghazi, all would go to the lakefront to dig and bring new red soil to mold their new stove for the pongal. Also on yet another good day, they would all order for new mud pots from the potter.
On the dawn of pongal , all the people in the village except the busy mothers will march out to the local hill temple, to welcome the rising sun. They would show karpoor aarti to the sun god and return to home to help their moms . Mostly all our houses in our village have a corridor where you can enjoy the sun , rain and the moon light . In this centre of the house , they would spread sand as a bed for the newly made stoves , in which they ignite the fire with the holy karpooram and cook pongal in the new pots and freshly harvested rice. When they start cooking in the new pots, they would boil milk and as it soars up, all people in the house would say aloud ‘pongal o pongal’ and praise the sun god for the gift of prosperity. Thus the first day of the thankgiving celebration is dedicated to the sun god , the prime factor for a good harvest. Typically the day’s menu would be venpongal (cooked and mashed rice ), payaru (mashed spicy whole moong dal ) , and pusanikai kootu(squash lentil medley).an open
The second day is to thank the cattle which helped in farming. Theare given a special ‘bubble’ bath in the nearby lakes , their horns colored in variety and decorated with ribbons.
The third day is called the ‘kaanum pongal’ where the people set out to meet friends and relatives. In cities, this day is much enjoyed and all the theatres, restraunts, and beaches are crowded. In our village, whereas the scene is slightly different. All the people will get together around the hill temple and have a great time. It is a big fund raising festival for the stall keepers, a great oppurtunity for the teenager girls to show off their new pavadai thavani and a great time for the teenage boys to appreciate all the ‘beauty’ on the earth .
In a nut shell, pongal is a month long preparation and a week long celebration for all of us. I really miss such a festival and could only write memories about it.