Thai Pongal Festival and Recipes
Pongal festival is a harvest festival celebrated by the people of TamilNadu at the end of harvest season. It coincides with the festival Makara Sankranthi celebrated throughout India as the winter harvest. The word pongal itself refers to the “boiling over” of milk and rice during the month of Thai. Farmers work for the whole year harvesting the paddy crops and using the freshly produced rice, farmers will prepare pongal on this auspicious day and show their gratitude to Lord Surya. On this festival day, the sun god(Suriyan) will turn from southern direction to northern direction. It is a tradition for tamilians to decorate their homes with banana and mango leaves and embellish the floor with decorative patterns drawn using rice flour.
Pongal Festival is a 3 day festival which starts from the last day of the tamil calender month Margazhi and proceed till the second day of the Tamil Calender month Thai. The first day of the festival is called Bogi followed by Thai Pongal and ends with Kanu Pongal.
For Thai Pongal, first we need to get few important things from shop. We need flowers, coconut, betel leaves and nut, Sugarcane, turmeric plant (Manjakothu). We need to get 2 turmeric plants. One of the plant should have lots of turmeric and other should have nice big leaves which we can cut and wrap it in a plastic sheet and refrigerate and use it on Kanu.
In earlier days Thai Pongal is prepared in a hand made pot which is decorated fully with turmeric, kumkum and sunnaambu. we need to tie turmeric plant with leaves and turmeric around the pot. We can also make plain rice and sakkarai pongal in bronze vessel. Nowadays we are preparing pongal in cooker and hence we need to decorate the pressure cooker accordingly. While we get the whistles, we need to tell “Pongalo Pongal” and pray to god.
We need to prepare the sakkarai pongal, vadai, plain rice for neivedhyam and we need to do the neivedhyam only at the time when “Thai” months begins.
We have to use broad beans, pumpkin, ashgourd, sakaraivellikizhangu, senaikizhangu/potato, raw banana and Lima beans vegetables on this occasion. With all these veggies and make Pongal Kootu. Traditionally we make big quantity of this kootu, aviyal and save some for the next day (Kanu Festival). Some of us have a practice of making Ericha kuzhambu which is made with the left over pongal kootu and aviyal. We need to add cook the leftover pongal kootu with more tamarind juice, salt and sambar powder and keep in low flame till the whole kootu becomes very thick. Most of us eat this left over pongal kootu on Kanu festival because its a tradition to eat atleast a spoon of left over food on Kanu Festival.
Wish you a very happy Pongal.!