Chennai, Jan 15 (PTI) The harvest festival of Pongal was celebrated with traditional fervour across Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Puducherry on Wednesday with the celebrations also marking the onset of the Tamil month of 'Thai', seen as a harbinger of good times.

People celebrated the festival by donning new clothes and preparing the sweet rice of 'pongal' in the 'pongal panai,' (pongal pot), bought sugarcane and offered prayers amid traditional chants of 'Pongal-o-Pongal' that symbolised growth and prosperity.

People used new earthen pots to prepare the pongal and markets everywhere bustled with people buying sugarcane, fruits and flowers.

Entrances to houses were decked up with mango leaves and garlands that are considered auspicious. Temples conducted special prayers.

Revelry marked the festival with the conduct of 'jallikattu' (bull taming sport) at Avaniapuram in Madurai and new Tamil flicks, including Dhanush starrer 'Pattas,' released today.

Chief Minister K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam celebrated Pongal in their respective home towns of Salem and Theni respectively.

DMK president M K Stalin met party workers at his Alwarpet residence here and gave Rs 20 to them, a tradition being followed since the days of his late father and party patriarch M Karunanidhi.

A slew of cultural events and folk dances, including 'karagattam,' and performances of martial art like 'silambam,' were held in several parts of the state.

A boat race was held in Ooty in the Nilgiris marking the celebrations. In Ramanathapuram district, a special puja was held in the sea shore.

The AIADMK-led government in the state distributed Rs 1,000 cash and gift hampers containing raw rice, sugar, raisins, cashew nut, cardamom and sugarcane to all cardholders to use the ingredients in the preparation of 'Pongal'.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister K Palaniswami and DMK president and Leader of Opposition M K Stalin were among the leaders who greeted the people.

In Puducherry, Lt Governor Kiran Bedi, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy, Ministers, and leaders of various political parties greeted people on the occasion of the festival. PTI

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