Pongal – Culture (Harvest Festival)
Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated as a tribute to the Sun God as it marks the six-month-long journey towards the north. The word Pongal comes from Tamil language meaning “overflowing” which signifies abundance and prosperity.
All Tamils living not only in the Indian Tamil state Nadu and Puducherry, but also Canada, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Singapore, South Africa, the USA and UK also celebrate this traditional event that brings all Tamil families and communities together every year. This three to four day event usually taking place in the second week of January, holds a significant value in the Tamil community relating many important aspects, food being one of them.
Food enjoys great importance in this one-of-a-kind event. People use a concoction of rich staple foods to make the perfect dish for the festival. When talking about what kind of dish for the festival seems perfect, the rice and milk dish is the traditional choice highlighted as a main course in the festival of Pongal.
In the Pongal festival, people cook milk in a large pot. Upon its boiling, they wait further to let the liquid touch the top of the pot and stream out of it. When the bubbling is on its peak, the cooks add harvested rice grains to the pot. These grains are the fresh harvest of the season that is celebrated among the people of the region who then enjoy it with a blow of “Sanggu” and a shout of “Pongalo Pongal” to make merry.
In addition to the main dish cooked from freshly harvested rice grain, the people celebrating Pongal festival also make other kinds of traditional recipes like Murukku, Vadai and Paayasam. When it comes to food, there is no compromise on the traditions and taste of this rich and vibrant culture when it comes to celebrating the Pongal.
To conclude, the message of peace, prosperity and growth this festival gives out to all other people and cultures of the world is a powerful one. Food is undoubtedly a delightful source that unites us all with its wholesomeness, nourishment and taste. Pongal is an amazing example of celebrating this blessing in a beautifully traditional manner.