14 January 2013

2013 Pongal Arunachala

Pongal was originally a Harvest Festival for the farming community but today it is celebrated by all. It follows the solar calendar and is celebrated on the same days each year. With the end of the wet month of Margazhi (mid December to mid January) the new Tamil month of Thai heralds a series of festivals. 

According to the calendar based on the solar system the year is divided into two halves following the apparent movement of the Sun northwards and Southwards. The former is termed Uttarayanam and the latter is Dakshinayanam. Uttarayanam marks the Sun’s movement northward for a six month period and all important events are scheduled during this time. On the first day of Thai, the Sun leaves the zodiac sign of Sagittarius and enters that of Capricorn, the latter is known as Makaram. The event thus is celebrated as Pongal. 

There is a Tamil saying; "Thai peranthal Vali Perakum" – which means - with the dawn of the month of Thai, there will be peace, happiness, prosperity, brightness and harmony in the life of everyone. 

Four festivals will be celebrated at Tiruvannamalai (and throughout Tamil Nadu) for four consecutive days during Pongal Festival. Bhogi Pongal on January 13th, Surya Pongal on January 14th, Maattu Pongal on January 15th, and Thiruvalluvar Day (Kaanum Pongal) on January 16. 

On Bhogi old clothes and materials are thrown away and set on fire, marking the beginning of a new life. The second day of Pongal, is celebrated by boiling fresh milk early in the morning and allowing it to boil over the vessel - a tradition that is the literal translation for Pongal. The third day, Mattu Pongal, is meant to offer thanks to the cows and buffaloes, as they are used to plough the lands. The fourth day of this Festival is called Kaanum Pongal. In a few places this day is also known as Karinaal or Thiruvalluvar Day. 

[Above photograph taken early this morning January 14 with the dew still on the Hill and on the ground. This is exactly how Arunachala looks early in the morning this time of year]


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