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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in India Lesson 4 - Tamil Harvest Festival
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in India Series at HindiPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Hindi holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 4, Tamil Harvest Festival. In Hindi, it’s called Pongal.
In this lesson, we will talk about the festival or Utsav of Thai Pongal, the most important festival of the Tamil Hindu calendar. This festival is celebrated for 4 days, starting on January 14 or 15.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
There is a certain ritual performed during Pongal that is related to crows. Do you know what it is?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Pongal is celebrated on the first day of the Tamil Hindu month of Thai. It’s a seasonal harvest celebration and is commemorated by offering grains to the Sun as a gesture of gratitude. The day before Pongal is called Bhogi, and is also notable. On this day, each household brings out old, worn items from their homes and burns them in a big pyre, just like during Lohri. This is a day both to clean one’s house, or Ghar, and one’s life, or Jeevan, by ridding oneself of old baggage. This day is dedicated to the lord Indra.
The next day is the main day of festivities and is dedicated to the Sun God. On this day, everyone wears new clothes and decorates the facade of their house with Rangoli. People also enjoy a special rice pudding prepared with fresh paddy rice. This rice pudding, made with rice milk, mung bean, jaggery, cardamom, raisins, and cashew nuts, is offered to the Sun God as a form of worship, and is called Pongal, and is actually the origin of the festival’s name.
The third day is that of Mattu Pongal. Because oxen, or Bail are such an important part of farming, they are given a bath, groomed and are worshipped on this day. The fourth and final day is Kanoom Pongal, during which women and girls place rice on a leaf along with Rangoli in the courtyard and pray for their brothers to have a long life. Elders in the family offer blessings and gifts--usually of either clothes or cash--to everyone, and venture out to offer sweets and good wishes to friends and relatives.
Pongal made of rice bears special significance in this festival because of the interesting tradition linked to the dish. In this tradition, people gather around and watch as the pongal is cooked in a huge pot. When the mixture boils over, everyone shouts in joy Pongal O Pongal, and the festivities begin.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
There is a certain ritual performed during Pongal that is related to crows. Do you know what it is?
During Pongal, women cook dishes specifically for the purpose of giving them to crows. In Hindu mythology, the crow is the transporter of the god Shani, the god who is responsible for rewarding or punishing people for their deeds in life. Thus, the women feed Shani’s messengers in the hopes of pleasing the god so he may bless them with a long and happy life.
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Would you like to learn how to make the Pongal dish? Do you make a similar sweet in your country too?
Leave us a comment telling us at HindiPod101.com!
And we’ll see you in the next lesson!