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Pongal – The Indian Festival of Harvest marking the diversity of Indian culture

The Indian festival of harvest known commonly as Pongal is celebrated all around the country. This is exclusively done to thank and enjoy the food that now stands grown. This festival is celebrated throughout the world in different ways.

In Indian culture, the harvest festival is not only regarded by different names but also the celebration varies from region to region according to different lifestyle. Also, the harvest festival in India takes place during various months of the year in various regions. But there is always something common in the celebration that maintains the essence of Indian culture throughout length and breadth of this incredible nation. Read on to know all about India’s first harvest festival of the year which goes by various names as Pongal, Makar Sankranti, Lohri and such.

Pongal

Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated by Tamilians throughout the world. The festival is especially dedicated to thank Sun God (Surya Dev) for a prosperous harvest and is popular among Tamil people of the India’s Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. Apart from India, this festival is popular in countries like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius and some others.

Pongal is a four-day festival which corresponds to the dates January 14 to January 17 of the Gregorian calendar. People cook Pongal– a dish cooked out of rice and milk as main ingredients- and offer to Sun God, usually placing it in sun outside. There are two varieties of Pongal dish made out of rice, one sweet and other spicy.

Lohri

Dedicated to Sun God, Lohri is another variation of the harvest festival; celebrated in the northern part of India by Sikhs and Hindus.  It is tremendously popular in Punjab region. The Punjab folk festival- Lohri signifies the celebration of harvest of winter crops as well as a thankful remembrance to the Sun God for successful harvest.

Lohri celebration is pompous with bon-fires, Lohri songs, Punjab folk dances like Gidda, and variety of food items. In order to celebrate Lohri with friends and family, people distribute food items like til (sesame seeds), gur (jaggery), phuliya (popcorn), moongfhali (peanuts) and gachchak with each other.

Makar Sankranti

Various parts of India like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana celebrate Pongal in the name of Makar Sakranti. The sun transits into Capricorn (Makara) zodiac on this day . The significance of this is the end of winter solstice and beginning of summer.

The festivities associated with Makar Sankranti include colourful decoration of homes by leaves and flowers, drawing rangolis, kite flying competitions, folk songs, folk dances, bon-fires, fairs, and variety of foods which essentially reflects the lifestyle of Indian culture. People especially wear new and clean clothes. Also cook various food items like sajji roti, til ladoos, different types of chutneys, vegetables, curd-rice, Appalu. All the food items are offered to God before savoring themselves.

On the 3rd day of the festival Kanuma, they worship cattles to honor them for helping with farming.

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