Thai Pongal: A festival for a bountiful harvest | Sunday Observer

Thai Pongal: A festival for a bountiful harvest

10 January, 2021

The festival of Thai Pongal is celebrated by Hindus around the world, and it is one of the most festive and traditional celebrations around the world. Thai Pongal is held on the fourth day of the month of Thai in the Hindu-Tamil calendar which is an astrological calendar, and so it usually falls in the second week of January.

Pongal is also astrologically important as it marks the start of the Sun’s journey northwards from its southernmost point. This is known as the Uttharayana and is considered an auspicious time. Dakshinayana is the Sun’s journey from its northernmost point southwards and this is considered inauspicious.

Thai Pongal is essentially a harvest festival, dedicated to Mother Nature and her elements on which the farmers depend for a bountiful harvest of their crop – rice. Thai Pongal is a celebration of the sun, the rain, the soil, water, as well as cows and buffaloes.

Thai Pongal is a four-day celebration. The holiday given for Thai Pongal is the second day, on which the traditional dish Pongal is made and the kolam is drawn. Day one is called Bhogi and on this day, worshipers burn their old and unwanted items. Day two, the main day, is dedicated to the Sun God – Surya. Day three is dedicated to the cow, bull and other farm animals. Day four is Kaanum Pongal where sugarcane and milk rice is prepared by worshipers and offered, and visits are made to relations and loved ones.


The kolam is another important part of Thai Pongal. It is a traditional hand-drawn design made with lime powder and other susbtances, drawn at the entrance to the house.

Pongal literally means boiling over. Sweet Pongal rice is offered to the Sun God during the Thai Pongal festival.


Preparation of the traditional sweet rice Pongal is one of the most important aspects of Thai Pongal. It is a sweet rice with milk, jaggery, plums, and spices such as cloves and cardamoms.