Makar Sankranti falls in the 'Posh' month of the Hindu calendar, when the sun starts its journey northwards. It is a great opportunity for foodies to get their hands on all types of sweets from all across India during this time, as Sankranti festivities are largely related to traditions in food and harvest, from peethe in Bengal to til gud ke laddoo in Maharashtra and Karnataka, and to pongal in Tamil Nadu. The harvest festival celebrated in the south is called Pongal. In Tamil, the word 'pong' means 'boil over' or 'spill over.' In this article, we will talk about pongal (festive food with the same name of the south Indian festival - Pongal), preparations for 'Pongal Bhojanam' (Pongal lunch meal) recipes, and the significance of the four-day long festivities down south.
Pongal, also known as Thai Pongal, is celebrated on the day the sun begins to move northwards, similar to the popular harvest festival of the North - Makar Sankranti. The period is called Uttarayanam and is considered auspicious.
The first day, 'Bhogi', is celebrated on the last day of the month of 'Margazhi.' On this day, people buy new vessels and people clean and decorate their house. Moreover, there is a tradition to 'burn down' things that are considered to be old to make room for new things. The second day is called 'Perum Pongal', wherein people worship the Sun God, Lord Surya. Devotees decorate the central courtyard of their house with beautiful kolams, done with rice flour and bordered with red clay. On this day, people make chakkra pongal (sweet pongal dish) with newly harvested rice and jaggery early in the morning during the sunrise that is exactly the time when the new month is born.
The third day is 'Mattu Pongal', wherein cattle are worshiped that help farmers in farming. On this day, the cows are bathed and decorated with vermilion and garlands and fed well. The fourth and last day is called 'Kaanum Pongal'. It is that part of the festival when families gather on the riverbanks and enjoy a sumptuous meal together. Moreover, people also perform many traditional dances such as kummi and kolattam. There is also a tradition to cook newly-harvested grains for the first time on this day. The day is filled with rich and everlasting taste of all the festive food prepared for the auspicious occasion of Pongal.
The meal consists of sweet and salty Pongal, dry vegetable (poriyal/palya), vegetable gravy (kuzhambu/koora), savoury fritters, spicy salad, papads and pickles.
These recipes are typically prepared during Pongal, but can also be made on other festive occasions. The meal is traditionally eaten on a banana leaf. Eating on banana leaf is traditionally considered to have plenty of health benefits.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
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