In South India, Sankranti becomes Pongal. It is a celebration of the harvest, which is observed for three days in January. Bhogi Pongal, Surya Pongal and Mattu Pongal, are the three days of Pongal festivities on successive days. In certain parts cattle races still enliven the village festivities. Pongal is a colourful and traditional festival with many a ceremony devoted to various deities.
Pongal is an important festival in India, and we pray to the Sun God on this occasion. In North India, it is known as Sankaranthi.
The sun is very powerful and helps in the growth of the paddy and other plantations. So this festival is very important for farmers and so it is celebrated in a grand manner in villages. The house is cleaned, and all maintenance jobs are done before this festival. During the four-day festival, different varieties of Rangoli are drawn in front of the houses early in the morning.
The celebrations start on the last day of Margazhi, which is known as "Bhogi". On this day, we get up very early in the morning to take head bath. We place all the trash in front of the house and inflame it. We dispose old and useless things from our house and replace with new ones. Then we draw rangoli in front of the houses.
Pongal Reaping of paddy is done. Using the new rice, the recipe "pongal" is made and offered to God. The sun God moves in chariot driven by seven horses. A picture of the chariot is drawn in an open space when the sun arrives. A small sun is drawn at the centre of the chariot. We place turmeric sprigs and sugarcane in the pooja and pooja is done onto the chariot. Then the dishes are offered to God. Once the pooja is over, everyone in the house takes a small amount of Pongal and sprinkles all over the house, saying "Pongalo Pongal". This is done as a prayer to God to bless their houses.
Maatu Pongal The next day is maattu Pongal - pongal for the cows. Cows are worshipped on this day. Milk suppliers decorate the cows. They paint the horns, apply colours and tie clothes on the cows. Then they take the cows to all the houses.
Kaanum Pongal People go out for places and enjoy this day. This is a day to spend time and entertainment outside. In Madurai, Tiruchirapalli and Tanjore a kind of bull fight called the Jellikuttu is held. Bundles containing money are tied to the horns of the ferocious bulls, and unarmed men try to wrest the bundles from them.
With ingredients provided by freshly gathered harvest, community meals are held throughout the state.