Madurai, January 12: Ahead of the Pongal festival which is set to begin on January 15, farmers in Madurai have begun sugarcane harvest. Harvest of 'Sengarumbu' or Pongal sugarcane began in Madurai after the Tamil Nadu Civic Supply Corporation began procurement of sugarcane to add to the Pongal gift hampers distributed through ration shops. The Corporation will procure 7.67 lakh sugarcane for distribution to the ration card holders in the district.

Notably, Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated by the Tamil community. It is a celebration to thank the Sun, Mother Nature and the various farm animals that help to contribute to a bountiful harvest. Celebrated over four days, Pongal also marks the beginning of the Tamil month called Thai, which is considered an auspicious month. It usually falls on the 14th or 15th of January each year. Pongal 2024 Date: Know Full Schedule of Bhogi Pongal, Surya Pongal, Mattu Pongal, Kaanum Pongal and the Significance of the 4-Day Harvest Festival in Tamil Nadu

Pongal is also the name of the dish made and eaten during this festival. It is a mixture of boiled sweet rice. It is derived from the Tamil word pongu, which means "to boil over". The first day of Pongal is called Bhogi. It is a day where cleaning and discarding of old belongings are carried out to signify a fresh start. New clothes are worn, and houses are decorated in the spirit of the festivity.

The second day is the main day of Pongal and is celebrated as Surya Pongal. On this day, the Sun God is honoured. Colourful decorative floor patterns called kolam are drawn at the entrance of one's home, and each household cooks a pot of fresh rice with milk. As the milk boils freely over the pot, family members shout out happily "Pongalo Pongal"! After the Pongal is offered to the Sun God, they would feast on several Pongal dishes that are prepared especially for the day.

The third day of Pongal is called Maatu Pongal. This day is devoted to honouring and worshipping the cattle (Maatu) to remember the work they do - ploughing the land. Cows are bathed and adorned with multi-coloured beads, flowers garlands, and bells. In Singapore, thanksgiving prayers would be conducted for the cattle at some dairy farms owned by Indians. Makar Sankranti 2024 in Different States: From Uttarayan in Gujarat to Khichdi Parv in Uttar Pradesh, Here's How the Harvest Festival Is Celebrated Around India

Sugarcane Harvest for Pongal Commences in Madurai

The fourth day of Pongal is called Kaanum Pongal. On this day, importance is given to the community and to strengthen ties. Families gather together to have a sumptuous meal. Younger members seek the blessings of the older members of their families. It is also a day for traditional Indian folk dances such as mayilattam and kolattam.

Pongal is not a gazetted holiday across the nation but it is a religious holiday particularly in South and Central India for employees. However, schools and colleges in these areas remain closed for all four days of Pongal as well as businesses related to agriculture also remain closed.

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