Happy Pongal to all my dear visitors of Duasenku who are celebrating Thai Pongal and as for those of you who aren’t, well, have a great and blessed day.
For those of you wondering what Thai Ponggal is, it is a thanks giving festival celebrated by Tamils around the world. I can’t think of a simpler way of describing it than to share the following, which is part of a “Happy Pongal” message forwarded to me on WhatsApp by a relative of mine. As I don’t know who initially penned or more accurately typed this message, I shall leave the source as “Anonymous via WhatsApp”.
“Happy Thai Ponngal to all Tamils, wherever you may be celebrating. Thai Ponggal may have its origins as thanks giving by the farmers of South India. Every farming community of this world had and still have their own versions of thanks giving. The most commonly recognised being the North American Thanks Giving. The Koreans celebrate Chuseok, the Japanese version is Tsukimi, Gawai in Sarawak, Sukkot by the Jews and the list goes on.The central purpose of these festivals, whatever they might be called was to say thank you for the good and bountiful yield. This central theme is not lost even in this modern era. We may not be an agrarian society anymore. But we are still bestowed with plenty. We are surrounded by loving family and friends. We are free from major health issues. We have not missed three meals a day. The list could go on. We are thankful for all these. Thai Ponggal and all other such festival is a good opportunity for us to thank everyone who had touched us in our life in the past year.
Pongal-oh-ponggal” – Source: Anonymous via WhatsApp
Thai Pongal, falls on the first day of the month of Thai according to the Tamil calendar, which more or less falls on the 14th of January (on some occassions it has fallen a day or two earlier or later than the 14th of Januar). On this day, at the break of dawn just before sunrise or during any of the auspicious period of time throughout the day, we would start off by boiling milk in a pot.
Traditionally, this was done on a stove fueled by wood or coal, with gas stoves being increasingly in use for this purpose due to the practicality of doing it in high-rises or in the city. Again, traditionally, the pot used to boil the milk would be an earthen pot but these days we also use pots made out metal or more accurately, stainless steel.
Anyway, going back to the boiling pot of milk on the stove, someone would stand guard and monitor the boiling pot of milk, ensuring that the stove, if it is coal or wood powered, has sufficient fuel to successfully boil the milk in the pot. As the milk is almost at the boiling point, we would all be summoned by the guardian of the pot of milk, to gather around it, at a safe distance of course. When the milk eventually boils over, out of the pot, everyone present would shout out in joy, “Pongal Oh Pongal”.
Once the euphoria of the milk boiling over comes done, we would put rice into the pot. The rice will be cooked in the boiled milk, with brown sugar, raisins, cashew nuts and some spices for additional taste. Once cooked, the result would be sweet rice, which in Tamil is called Pongal. A portion of the Pongal, is first served to God as an offering of gratitude for the bountiful harvset, before the Pongal is served out to all those present. Interestingly, in Tamil, the word Pongal also means boil.
Now, I would love to talk more about Thai Pongal but I got to go back for another serving of Pongal before it runs out. Otherwise, I would have to wait another year for more. So, if you are interested to know more about this festival, a good place to start would be Wikipedia or a simple search on Google for “Thai Pongal”. Till my next post, have a great day.
1. I was just kidding about having to wait for another year for more Pongal. One can always get it after prayers at most Hindu temples on most if not all festive days.
2. The featured image is an image sourced from Wikipedia courtesy of Thiagupillai.
3. All images in this post (except for that mentioned in 2 above) are courtesy of Duasenku.com.