Thai Pongal (தை பொங்கல்) or Pongal (பொங்கல்) is a thanksgiving or harvest festival celebrated in South India at the end harvest season. It is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Tamils in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the Indian Union Territory of Pondicherry and Sri Lanka.
Pongal marks the beginning of the northward journey of the Sun from its southernmost-limit, a movement traditionally referred to as uttarayana. It coincides with the festival Makara Sankranthi celebrated throughout India as the winter harvest, and is usually held from January 13–16 in the Gregorian calendar i.e. from the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi to the third day of Thai. The second of the four days or the first day of month Thai is the main day of the festival which is known as Pongal or Thai Pongal. This also represents the Indic solstice when the sun purportedly enters the 10th house of the Indian zodiac i.e. Makar or Capricorn.
The word pongal itself refers to the “boiling over” of milk and rice during the month of Thai.[The saying “Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum” meaning “the commencement of Thai paves the way for new opportunities” is often quoted regarding the Pongal festival. Tamils thank the Sun god (Surya) for the good harvest and consecrate the first grain to him on this ‘Surya Mangalyam’. Tamilians decorate their homes with banana and mango leaves and embellish the floor with decorative patterns drawn using rice flour.
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