Historical & Current Events dictionary


[ pong-uhl ]

What is Pongal?

Pongal is a harvest and thanksgiving festival primarily celebrated in Southern India among Tamil communities. It marks the transition to springtime after the winter solstice.

Observance of the festival centers around a traditional dish also known as pongal, which is made with (newly harvested) rice that’s boiled with milk and a kind of sugar called jaggery.

Pongal is sometimes called Thai Pongal, though that is also used to refer to one of the days of the festival. (The word Thai in Thai Pongal is the name of the Tamil calendar month in which Pongal takes place. It’s also spelled Tai.)

A similar festival called Lohri is celebrated in Northern India.

Other festivals that take place in India at the same time and also celebrate the harvest and the transition to springtime are called Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan (though these are often considered separate observances).

Pongal is a thanksgiving festival, involving offerings to the rain god Indra, to the sun, and to cattle.

⚡️When is Pongal?

Pongal begins in mid-January. In 2024, it will begin on January 15. The length of the festival varies by community, but it’s often three or four days.

Related words

Uttarayan, Sankranti

Where does Pongal come from?

photo of bowl of pongal (milk rice dish), blue filter.

The festival gets its name from the rice dish pongal, which means “boiling over” or overflowing.” This is a reference to how the dish is prepared by boiling rice in milk until it overflows—a symbol of the abundance of the harvest and the prosperity of the coming year.

Examples of Pongal

#Valimai to release in #January 2022 during the festival of #Pongal. Earlier, the film was scheduled for #Diwali release, but it couldn't be possible due to the pandemic. There is going to be a huge clash at the #BoxOffice given many films are scheduled for the same time.
@jyothi_jha, September 22, 2021
Happy Winter Solstice! It’s a winter festival in the Northern Hemisphere. Pretty much all the cultures have the winter festivals : Makar Sankranthi, Pongal, Jul, Yule, Christmas, Hanukkah etc.
@LHReddy1, December 21, 2021
One of the most popular festivals of the country is Pongal, which is celebrated by the Tamil community around the world.
Davesh Tamta, Janbharat Times, December 22, 2021

Who uses Pongal?

Each day of Pongal has a different name and has different customs associated with it. The first day is called Bhogi and is dedicated to the god Indra. On this day, people throw away what they don’t need. The second day is called Thai Pongal, and this coincides with Makar Sankrati. On this day, people wear new clothes and decorate their houses with a kolam, a colorful artwork made from rice flour. The rice dish pongal is made on this day and offered to the Sun in thanks for the harvest. The third day is Mattu Pongal, on which cows and bulls are honored by being fed pongal and covered with flower garlands. The final day is Kanum Pongal and is spent relaxing and visiting family and friends. For some, the festival begins on Thai Pongal. For some, it ends on Mattu Pongal.

What are other words used in discussion of Pongal?

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