Harvesting happiness!

Festive week

Harvesting happiness!

As farmers get set to welcome new harvest, people in namma City will also be celebrating the harvest festivals of Pongal and Sankranthi in their own style. Despite their busy lives, the different communities here ensure that they do all they can to follow customs. 

With Pongal being a three-day festival and Makar Sankranthi observed for two to three days, it’s surely a festive week in Bangalore. The Tamilians pray to the Sun god as they place the pongal outside the house in a pot facing the East. The stove is made of red bricks and kolam (rangoli) is drawn near it. Mattu Pongal is observed on January 15 during which the cows are prayed to. While January 16 is the Kaanum Pongal, during which girls pray for their brothers by offering rice balls to birds.

An operations manager, Sheeba Rajam who is a Palakkad Iyer, ensures that she passes the customs on to her children. “The tradition is to get a new pot. But living in an apartment, we generally use the same steel vessel. We put new rice in it and boil it in such a way that the water comes out. A small kolam is drawn next to the kitchen counter,” she adds. 

Sheeba grows her own turmeric and takes it out specially in January for the festival. “We make both sweet and salt pongal. The exteriors of the house are decorated with pumpkin flowers and rangoli. This is supposed to usher in good luck and prosperity. The next day, we keep the rice from the festival for the birds and pray for our brothers. On the third day, we make a variety of rice preparations like lemon and coconut rice,” she says. 

For Kannadigas, the main part of the festival is the exchange of yellu-bella. While Boghi is observed on the first day, Sankranthi is on the second day. Sujaya Prabhakar, a homemaker, does puja and prepares pongal on Sankranthi. “It’s a harvest festival that signifies a change in the direction of sun. It’s all about spreading happiness,” she explains. “We also give yellu-bella, a piece of sugarcane, fruit, sugar candy, betel leaf and nut, dry coconut and a small plastic or steel gift to neighbours and friends. If there is a newborn child at home, then a silver item like a small idol of Krishna, Gowri or Ganesha is given,” she adds.

Says Nalini Ravishankar, a homemaker who hails from Andhra Pradesh, “Traditionally, cow dung, along with new harvest like sugarcane and rice, is kept in front of the house. It’s considered to be very auspicious. But in cities, the celebrations are slightly different,” she informs. “We prepare pongal, yellu-bella and make an offering to a Brahmin priest as the first harvest is supposed to be given to them.”
 Explaining the significance of yellu-bella, she says, “The oil in the groundnuts and sesame protects the skin and also warms our body. The exchange signifies that something good has come out of you. Groundnut plays a very important role in the festival. It is even boiled and kept in front of the deity.” 

Punjabis observed Lohri on January 13. Payal, who works with Akshara Foundation, an NGO, went to the gurudwara in Ulsoor for a langar in the evening and had friends over at night. 

“The celebrations started in the day and we had lunch together. In the night, we sat around a bonfire and put popcorn and revdi (sesame and sugar) in it. Lohri is big for families with a newly-married son or newborn child. The idea is to get everyone together and chat. Generally, the people who can play traditional Punjabi music with the dhols are called. It’s a reason to party and wear nice clothes. Even non-Punjabis take part in the celebrations,” she says.

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