The increasing pace and mechanisation of life has robbed people from the leisure time that is needed to relax. Tension is created in life due to this continuous running without time for stopping. Presently the diversion is provided by phones, television and other technology. However, festivals provide the opportunities to pray, relax and enjoy. Thai Pongal is one of the many Hindu festivals. Thai Pongal is the Hindu harvest festival and a time when we perform rites and rituals to praise the Sun God, Surya. It is a thanksgiving to Surya.

Thai Pongal is the rite of passage of the Sun marking its entry into Makara and the Hindu harvest festival. Thai Pongal usually happens in mid-January. The word ‘thai’ means the first day of the Tamil month, which is usually mid-January. The word ‘pongal’ means boiled and refers to the fact that the rice boiled with sugar, nuts and raisins is the essential diet of the day. It is very important to harvest fresh paddy (rice) from the farm fields and use the same rice to cook the pongal. In villages, a fire altar is prepared in the forecourt of the houses. Milk is boiled in a new pot with rice and jaggery (brown sugar). The boiled rice (Pongal) is served to the deity especially the Sun God along with fruits and flowers. The cooked rice is eaten as the climax of the festival after the prayers.

The Sun is praised and worshipped as we can not do farming and agriculture without the farm. Hinduism is the only religion in the world to say thanks to nature.

Traditionally, the second day is called Maatu Pongal. ‘Maatu’ means cattle. This is because cows help us to do farming. On this day, cows are worshipped by the village. This is done by giving the cow a bath and then decorated with paint on the horns, covered with a beautiful cloth and ornaments. After, pongal is fed to the cow. The villages may include several festive games in celebration like Jallikattu. Jallikattu is when a group of men chase after a running bull and have to try and take off the ribbon that is around its horn. The man who succeeds in doing this is the winner.

In order to celebrate Pongal, the whole family has to wake up early in the morning and have a shower. They then have to cook the pongal before sunrise. So, the pongal is ready to for the thanksgiving to the Sun at sunrise. Fresh vegetables may also be harvested so that curries can be cooked to eat later on that day.