Food and frolic with family

pongal plans

Food and frolic with family

The Tamil community in the City will be celebrating Pongal, one of the most important festivals marked in their calenders, today. Not everyone follows each and every custom associated with the occasion, but traditionally speaking, the festivities continue for three days.

The families prepare extensive meals, invite friends and family over for large get-togethers and carry out all the little chores that generally precede Pongal.

Metrolife speaks to a few to find out what the festival has in store for them this year.
Jeyashree, an account manager, is a stickler for tradition — she has her family over every Pongal and all the little rituals of the festival are observed.

“Pongal is a harvest festival and the sweet dish is made from freshly-harvested rice. Prayers are offered to the sun god as well as the cattle, which are used during ploughing,” she explains.

The preparations for the festival, she adds, begin a week in advance.

“Houses are cleaned and whitewashed and a day before Pongal, what we call bhogi, all the waste items in the house are destroyed and replaced with new ones. On the day of Pongal, we make the sweet dish,” she says.

To do this, adds Jeyashree, a clay stove is made, decorated with rangoli and kumkum and stocked with firewood.

The sweet pongal is made in a pot, which is also decorated, besides being festooned with newly-grown, tender mustard leaves.

“First we boil the milk — it is supposed to overflow in all directions, which is considered auspicious. Then we add the rice and when it is boiled, we add some jaggery as well,” says Jeyashree, adding, “Some families use moong dal instead or rice. We generally garnish the pongal with cashew nuts and raisins.”

Uma Nathan, a professional who lives in Malleswaram, explains that a variety of other dishes are also made for Pongal.

“At home, we generally make sambar, different kinds of vegetable koottus and
vada. It’s a time for the entire family to get together — the elders also bless everyone,” she says.

For Manjula, a professional, Pongal is a festival of mixed traditions.
Although she is from Karnataka, she has a Tamilian aunt — and so in her case, customs from both traditions are observed.

“We prepare the sweet pongal in the morning and distribute neem and jaggery. We also make a large rangoli in front of the house.

Sugarcane and pongal is sent to about ten or 15 houses nearby,” she says.
On the third day of the festival, families are supposed to show respect to their
livestock.

“In the villages, they clean their cattle, paint their horns and decorate their necks with pieces of cloth, after which they take the animals to the temple to be blessed by the
pujari.

I’ve noticed this happening to some extent in Bangalore,” observes Jeyashree.
Not everyone, though, follows these customs to the letter.

Devi, who is originally from Coimbatore, admits that she rarely celebrates Pongal on the scale that she did while still with her family.

Now, she has created a watered-down version for the festival which she indulges in each year.

“At home, we used to stay up the entire night making rangolis and wake up early
in the morning to make the sweet pongal and keep everything ready for the puja. Now that I’ve moved here, it’s no longer possible.

But I do make pongal in a little vessel and try and observe a small puja every year. I also call people home — not the kind of large gatherings we used to host at home, but I still call a few close friends over,” she sums up.

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