Pongal in India


What is Pongal?

Pongal is a harvest festival. It is celebrated in southern India, especially in Tamil Nadu. In the Tamil language, the term "Pongal" is a symbol of prosperity and abundance. 

This is the Indian thanksgiving to the Sun God and the elements of nature for a bountiful agricultural harvest. Pongal marks the start of Thai, the auspicious Tamil month; hence it is also known as Thai Pongal.

Pongal - All Quick Overview

  • Time / Date: January 14 to January 17
  • Category:Religious
  • Where It’s Marked: India, Sri Lanka
  • Why It’s Marked: Pongal is celebrated to convey gratitude to the Hindu Sun God for blessings with a harvest and a prosperous new year.

History of Pongal

Pongal is an ancient holiday celebrated by the people of South India, particularly the Tamils. Interesting facts and legends are found related to this festival. We will be shedding light on both!

First, let’s check the facts! The festival's history may be traced back to the Sangam Age. As mentioned in the Sanskrit Purana, Pongal was regarded as a Dravidian harvest festival. 

According to tradition, the festival represents the end of the winter season and the beginning of the sun's new journey toward a new season. It coincides with Makar Sankranti. According to the annual agricultural cycle, most regions of the state would have finished harvesting shortly before Pongal, so farmers' homes and stockyards would be brimming with newly harvested paddy. Thus, the festival originated to honor the Sun God with the harvest made by farmers, as there’s no shortage of grains at this time of the year!

Now let’s talk about legends! According to Hindu mythology, Shiva asked his bull Basava to request that all mortals have a daily oil massage and bath, and eat once a month. Basava accidentally said everyone should eat daily and take a monthly oil bath. Shiva was enraged as he did not expect Basava to misquote him. Basava was then cursed to live forever on earth. 

Since then, cattle have helped farmers plow the land and harvest an abundance of crops.

How to Celebrate Pongal

Pongal is the epitome of colorful and vibrant celebrations in an agricultural-based society! The festival lasts four days, each indicating a special kind of celebration. The celebration of Pongal is earthy, abundant with freshly harvested paddy, and an occasion for farmers to celebrate their hard work. The festival lasts four days, each indicating a special kind of celebration. Let us walk you through the four-day-long, ritual-filled festival!

Day 1: Bhogi Pongal

The first day of Pongal is Bhogi Pongal. It is a day when old items are cleaned and discarded on a bonfire to symbolize a new beginning. Houses are decorated in a festive spirit. People wear new clothes and celebrate the festival with a new spirit.

Day 2: Surya Pongal

Surya Pongal is held on the second day, which is the primary day of Pongal. The Sun God is honored on this day. 

Pongal means ‘to boil’. As the milk bubbles over the saucepan, family members shout, “Pongalo Pongal!” In the morning, the dish is offered to the Sun God with coconuts, bananas, coconuts, and sugarcane. Then everyone feasts on the decadent dishes of Pongal. 

Day 3: Mattu Pongal

The third day of Pongal is Mattu Pongal, also known as the Kanuma festival. This day is dedicated to honoring and worshiping cattle (Maatu) in memory of the work they accomplish.

Cows are bathed and decorated with multicolored beads, flower garlands, and bells. On this day, cattle are worshiped with the utmost respect and love. 

Day 4: Kaanum Pongal

The final day of Pongal is Kaanum Pongal. The word ‘kanuum’ means' to visit, as the context indicates, families and communities arrange get-together events on this day.

On this day, the people of the community gather together and worship the Sun God for prosperity and fertility. Younger members seek the blessings of their families' elders. Families join together for a delicious dinner. 

On this day, traditional Indian folk dances like mayilattam and kolattam are enjoyed and celebrated by all.

Countries That Observe Pongal

It is celebrated by Tamil people all over the world with enthusiasm and joy. It is predominantly celebrated in many states of India and Sri Lanka, where the Tamil community resides.

Interesting Facts About Pongal

Although Pongal might seem like just another Indian harvest festival, here are some facts that might change your opinion!

  • Pongal is also the name of the meal that is prepared on this occasion. It is made from boiled sweet rice. It comes from the Tamil term pongu, which means "to overflow.”
  • In Pongal, not only the Sun God but also Mother Nature and elements of nature are worshiped!
  • During Pongal, the soil is worshiped by applying sandalwood paste to their plows and sickles!

Unique Pongal Celebration Ideas

Though Pongal has very specific rituals to follow, you can always get creative and fancy with new celebration ideas. Here are some ideas you might want to try on your next Pongal!

  • Home decor on Pongal is a big part of the celebration. Be creative and light up your house with decorations by using organic elements such as flowers, banana trees, bamboo, sugarcane, banana leaves, etc. 
  • Pongal is incomplete without at least a serving of Ven Pongal, a traditional rice and lentil dish. Surprise your friends and family by making Ven Pongal on Pongal!
  • With staying at home being the new normal, do not be upset if you cannot take part in physical Pongal activities or are stuck at your job. You can always be a part of the online Pongal celebration and enjoy the spirit of Pongal! 

Pongal Quotes

Wishing someone a plain happy Pongal is so basic! If you like to spice up your Pongal wishes, these might help you!

"Hope the rising sun on Pongal, the Sun God, fills your life with abundant joy and prosperity!"

"May your happiness be overflowed just as the Pongal overflows on a clay pot!"

"Clean your mind, and burn the debris. Find your path to love and prosperity this Pongal!"


1. What is Pongal called in English?

To boil, overflow. The word is derived from the ceremony of Pongal, celebrated in India, which literally means boiling sweet rice.

2. Is Pongal a dish?

Pongal, also known as Pongali or is a rice dish boiled with milk, sweeteners, and ghee (clarified butter).  Also, the history of Pongal is very rice! It is also called Indian huggi.

3. Why is Pongal famous in Tamil Nadu?

Pongal refers to the beginning of the Tamil month of Thai, which is auspicious according to Tamil culture. That is why the festival is mostly associated with Tamil Nadu.

Pongal Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2022Fri14 JanPongal Non Public
2023Sat14 JanPongal Non Public
2024Mon15 JanPongal Non Public

We constantly update the dates of holidays that keep changing every year. However, while we revise and change some dates to be accurate, if you find any errors, kindly inform us . That will mean a lot to us.

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