Last Updated: 14th January, 2020

Pongal Festival

Pongal Festival

Pongal is the harvest festival in South India. Pongal in Tamil means "boiling over or spill over." The act of boiling over of milk in the clay pot is considered auspicious and denotes the future prosperity for the family. Pongal is big celebration in Tamil Nadu and Tamils worldwide.

Pongal festival is associated with the harvest festival. On this day people thank the rain, sun and the farm animals that have helped in the harvest. Everyone wear new clothes and dress to the finest.

Dates for Pongal 2020

Festival Date
Bhogi January 15
Surya Pongal January 16
Mattu Pongal January 17
Kaanum Pongal or Thiruvalluvar Day January 18

Pongal Calendar
Weekday Date Year
Sat Jan 14 2017
Sun Jan 14 2018
Tue Jan 15 2019
Wed Jan 15 2020
Wed Jan 13 2021
Thu Jan 13 2022

First Day - Bhogi Pongal

Pongal Festival
  • Pongal is a four day festivity. The celebration starts from the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi to the third day of the Thai. Kolam decorations are an important part of Pongal.
  • The first day is called Bhogi.The day is celebrated by throwing away and destroying old clothes and materials. People set old clothes on fire, which marks the end of the old Thai and the emergence of the new Thai.

Second Day - Sarkarai Pongal

Pongal Festival
  • It is popularly known as Sarkarai Pongal or Veetu Pongal. The second day is celebrated by boiling rice with fresh milk and jaggery in new pots. The food is later topped with brown sugar, cashew nuts and rai.
  • When the rice boils over and bubbles come out of the vessel, the tradition is to blowing the sangu and shout "Ponggalo Ponggal." It is considered auspicious and brings good luck and prosperity, to watch the rice boils over.

Third Day - Maattu Pongal

Pongal Festival
  • The boiled over rice is offered to the Nature during sunrise. It is a kind gesture which means to convey thanks to the sun and nature.
  • On this day people offer thanks to cattle, as they help farmer in different ways for agriculture.
  • Tamilians decorate their cattle's with paint, flowers and bells. Their horns are decorated with gold and other metallic covers. In various places, Jallikattu is organized which is the taming of wild bull. It is the main event seen in various villages.

Fourth Day - Kaanum Pongal

Pongal Festival
  • The final day of the Pongal is called the Kaanum Pongal. The word kaanum means "to view." People socialize with their near and dear ones. People visit their relatives to enjoy the festive season and greet each other.


Interesting facts about Pongal

Interesting facts about Pongal
  1. 'Pongal' in Tamil means "to boil", which refers to rice cooked in milk and jaggery.
  2. Pongal is the name of a dish consumed during this festive time.
  3. In addition to rice, jaggery (in Tamil Vellam) and milk, the ingredients of Pongal dish include cardamom, raisins, Green gram (split), and cashew nuts.
  4. There are two varieties of Pongal. The one which is salty is called 'Ven Pongal' while the sweet one is called 'Sarkkarai Pongal'.
  5. Popular Dishes on Pongal : Mango pichadi is a special dish made from raw mangoes and jaggery which is served as a chutney. Some other dishes for the festivals are - aval payasam, dal payasam, coconut rice, tamarind rice, lemon rice, murukku, rawa pongal, curd rice.
  6. Cooking for pongal is done in sunlight, usually in a porch or courtyard, as the dish is dedicated to the Sun god, Surya.
  7. This festival is called Maghi in Punjab and Hariyana.Makara Sankaranthi in Andhra and other states, Bihu in Bihar and Uttarayana in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
  8. In the early morning of the Pongal day, draw kolams - rangoli of various geometric patterns and colors, In front of the houses.
  9. Traditional Food of pongal is Freshly harvested rice boiled with moong dal, made with mild spices, salt, and ghee. This salty pongal food is called ven pongal. There is also a sweet variety of food , known as chakkara pongal, made by adding milk, jaggery, and dry fruits. As per tradition, It is consumed with vada, sambar, and chutney.
  10. The best way to wish someone 'Happy Pongal' is to say, 'Pongal-O-Pongal' .Meaning 'it's boiling over', 'Pongal-O-Pongal' is said when the pongal begins to boil.
  11. According to the legends, during pongal unmarried girls prayed for agricultural prosperity of the country and for this purpose, they observed penance during the Tamil month of Margazhi. They abstained from consuming milk and milk products, didn't oil their hair throughout the month. No use of harsh words by them. Ceremonial bath in the early morning as part of the ritual of the penance.
  12. Jalikattu is an integral part of the Pongal celebrations.

Legends of Pongal

There are some popular legends associated with this festival. They are as follows.

Legend related to Lord Shiva

Pongal Festival

Lord Shiva had once ordered his bull, Basava, to inform humans that they must go for an oil massage before they take their bath everyday and they should eat just once every month. But Basava declared that every human being should eat daily and have an oil bath just once a month. Shiva was furious to find this out and cursed Basava to reside on earth along with the humans forever. This meant that Basava would have to help the humans in agricultural activities. This is how Pongal is associated with cattle.

Legend of Lord Indra and Krishna

Pongal Festival

According to ancient stories, Lord Krishna in his childhood, had asked all the farmers to avoid praying to Indra. This annoyed Lord Indra and in return, he flooded the earth with rain and thunderstorm. Lord Krishna helped his villagers by lifting Mount Govardhan to protect their lives. Lord Indra understood his mistake later on; he also realized the divine power of Lord Krishna.

Pongal is observed with widespread enthusiasm in South India as well as other parts of the world. It is the celebration of prosperity and happiness that come with a good harvest. So, participate in the festivities on the four days of Pongal and enjoy the traditions and customs that make this event a special one.


Pongal Gift Ideas

Flowers and Good Luck plants:

Pongal Festival
  • A bouquet of orange gerberas is just the ideal way to send your warmest wishes to your dear ones on this festive occasion.
  • A basket full of multi-colored roses can also make a heartwarming gift for Pongal.
  • You can otherwise go for a beautiful arrangement of pink orchids to convey your heartfelt greetings to your loved ones.
  • Sending Good Luck plants is a great way to wish your dear ones good fortune and success in the days to come.

Lord Sun sculptures:

  • Gifting sculptures and wall hangings of Sun God on this special occasion is a popular practice.
  • This is because the second day of this festival is dedicated to Sun God and is known as Surya Pongal. So, it is auspicious to offer and receive such a present on this occasion.

Pooja accessories:

Pongal Festival
  • You can get your loved ones a steel, silver, or brass pooja thali with accessories like small bowls, incense sticks, bells, and a diya stand. Idols of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Durga can also be presented along with these pooja thalis.

Sweet hampers:

Pongal Festival
  • Gift your loved ones sweet hampers that come with mixed sweets like gulabjamun, kaju rolls, laddu, and kaju apples. They are sure to appreciate such a present on this happy occasion.

Home decor items:

  • Since Pongal is the time when people decorate their homes, get your dear ones artistic home decor items like wooden handicrafts or a dancing Nataraj.
  • A leather-coated wooden vase with clay work and embellished with pearl brooch and antique gold and white stones is one of the Pongal gift ideas for those who are close to your heart. Such a vase often comes with artificial flowers and green fillers.
  • Add a special touch to this present by gifting an elegant photo frame along with the vase.

Dry fruit hampers:

  • Get your family members, friends, or associates a dry fruit hamper that has a delightful selection of almonds, cashews, raisins, walnuts, and pistachios. Such a gift is sure to be appreciated by one and all.

Presents for kids:

  • Let kids enjoy this festive occasion with exciting presents like cricket and tennis sets, games CDs or stuffed toys.You can also look for combo gifts which include a cuddly teddy bear, butter cookies, and an assortment of chocolates.
  • Even adults will love to receive such a special present. You can add value to this gift by sending your dear ones a Pongal greeting card.

Silver gifts:

  • Get your dear ones a set of three silver diyas on this auspicious occasion. As an alternative, you may choose a silver tulsi plant and send it to your loved ones to wish them good luck and prosperity on this day. Such a present can also serve as an elegant decorative item.


  • This Pongal, sweeten your relationships by gifting a vanilla cake, a butterscotch cake, or a dark chocolate and make this occasion a memorable one for them.

Fruit baskets:

  • A basket of fresh seasonal fruits like apples, bananas, oranges,and grapes can make a good choice for Pongal gifts.

Gift vouchers:

  • One of the interesting Pongal gift ideas is a gift voucher with which your dear ones can enjoy a sumptuous meal at their favorite restaurant or have a unique shopping experience at the stores of their choice.
  • Delight your loved ones and associates with any of these gifts, and you are sure to bring a smile on their faces.