Thai Pongal is a four-day long harvest festival where individuals offer thanks to nature for providing grain, the basic staple of the food chain. The etymology of Thai Pongal can be traced to the meaning of its root words “pong” and “thai,” which mean “to boil” and “January” in Thamil. Thai Pongal marks the first day of a new year, and a new month of the Thamil calendar. On this day, farmers will thank nature, especially the Sun and the farm cattle for their allowing them to reap a bountiful harvest, and will harvest new crops including rice, cereals, sugar cane, and turmeric for the next season. A dish of Pongal is also prepared using freshly harvested rice by farmers, the pot of rice, milk and jaggery (pongal) is set to boil until it boils over the pot in beliefs that doing so will result in a bountiful year.
What is Maatu Pongal?
Maatu Pongal is a celebration that follows Thai Pongal in which farmers honour their cattle for its hardwork by giving it a bath and adorning it.
Who celebrates Thai Pongal?
Thamils all over the world celebrate Thai Pongal by giving thanks to nature, making special dishes, giving gifts to family, and dressing up in new clothing. It is a cultural holiday and festival, thus it is celebrated by all Thamils.
What is the significance of Thai Pongal?
Thai Pongal is a highly socially significant holiday to the culture and tradition of the Thamil people. Thai Pongal is a day in where farmers thank nature for its bounty, and harvest a new set of crops for the new season. It marks the beginning of a new season, and beginning. Furthermore, the month of Thai has traditionally been the month in where most weddings are held. The Thamils have traditionally been an agrarian society, as a result, the months of plentiful harvest was the months in which resulted in the greatest economic output. Thai being such a month meant that more families were able to bear the expenses of holding a wedding.
Many believe that with the onset of a New Year, better pathways and beginnings will follow, thus the common phrase, “Thai piranthaal, vali pirakum.”
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