Praying for material abundance

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TRADITIONAL Preparing Pongal is an integral part of the festival.

Sankranthi ushers in prosperity, goodwill and of course, a new beginning. For Tamilians, the month of January signifies one of the biggest festivals of the year — Pongal. A festival spanning over four days, it’s that time of the year when Tamilians get together and celebrate a new beginning. As the City gears up to celebrate Sankranthi, the Tamil community is all set to prepare sweet and khara pongal along with a variety of coloured rice, payasams and stews. Metrolife speaks to a few young ladies to find out how they are going to celebrate Pongal.

Padma Srinivasan, a teacher, is all set to celebrate her first Pongal in the City. “Since I am newly-married, I will have to wear the nine-yard sari,” she says. “I will wake up early morning, get ready, and along with my mother-in-law, I will cook pongal in a vengala panai (brass pot),” she adds.

As the name Pongal means the process of boiling over, when the pongal comes to a boil, the entire family gathers around the pot and shouts out pongal o pongal. “We will also do puja and make some vada and payasam,” adds Padma.

The next morning, the birds are fed with various types of rice preparations including the sweet and khara pongal. This ritual is called Kaka Pudi Kannu Pudi. Adorned with sugarcane and kolam (South Indian rangoli), the rice items are shaped into small balls and kept on a banana leaf. Early morning, the girls get up and keep this on the terrace of their house for the birds. They then pray for the happiness of their brothers.  “We only eat coloured rice on this day — like lemon rice, coconut rice and thair sadam (curd rice),” informs Padma.

Sripriya, a housewife, has been busy shopping for Pongal and purchasing sugarcanes, sesame seeds, coconuts and jaggery to name a few. “On the first day, we take an oil bath as it’s the Bogi festival. We also discard old items to mark a new beginning,” she says. “Next day, we prepare pongal in vengala panai. A piece of turmeric is tied to the mouth of this pot. The pongal is prepared facing the East as that’s where the sun rises. For lunch, we prepare a lavish feast consisting of vada, payasam and other sweets. The third day is when we pray for our siblings.”

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