Or Thai Pongal, as we Tamilians call it.This is a five day festival with much significance and we celebrate it in a big way. Today also marks the first day of the month “Thai” in the Tamil calendar and there’s a saying which, roughly translated, means “when “thai” is born, solutions are born”. (thai pirandhaal vazhi pirakkum). People believe that this months heralds the solutions to all problems. This is celebrated as “Lohri” in north India.

In South India, schools and offices are closed for at least four days. On the first day or “Bhogi” (which was yesterday), people create a bonfire and burn or throw away all their old stuff, signifying the start of a new life. What I do is gather stuff I want to donate and give it to those who need it.

On the second day, which is today, we make “Pongal” which is rice and lentils cooked in milk and then prepared as two dishes – sweet rice and rice garnished with salt, pepper, curry leaves and ghee. Traditionally, this rice is cooked in a pot over an open fire and when it boils over, everyone says “Pongalo-Pongal” joyously! I cook in a pressure cooker 🙂 and when it whistles, I say Pongalo-Pongal. We also make vadas I did – but didn’t take photos of those. :-). Tomorrow, the third day, we offer thanks to the cows and buffaloes, which plough the land. Fitting, because Pongal is a harvest festival. On the last day, it is fun time. In Madurai, Trichy and Tanjore, they have an event called “JalliKattu” where they tie bundles of money to the horns of the festival bulls – and villagers try to retrieve them.

Some of today’s “pongal” will be kept overnight and tomorrow morning, I’ll be up early to perform a wedding between the crow and the sparrow. Tradition. I’ll have curd rice, pongal, sweet pongal, fruits and sugarcane – and place bite sized amounts on a leaf, go to my terrace and leave it there for the crows to eat. Why this tradition? I think they meant that everyone should live harmoniously without differences – and hence the marriage between the crow and sparrow. 🙂 I love it!

So, had a busy morning and here are some not so great photos of today:

The Sun God Surya reigns over this harvest festival, naturally!
Flowers – roses, jasmine, tulsi, marigold…
This is the Rangoli – design done at the entrance of the home or in the prayer room to invite God 🙂
Roasting the rice and lentils for the Pongal before pressure cooking it in milk in the cooker
My Rangoli-in-a-hurry outside our home at the threshold
More Rangoli designs for you to feast your eyes on
And another
And another

And here is where we went shopping yesterday to buy our flowers. Prices were sky-high, of course, but can’t help that. It is only during festivals that these people actually make a profit. And they work so hard.

Malleswaram is where people from all over Bangalore visit to do their shopping. You get everything here. Everything! The women flower vendors are amazing business-women!
Picture courtesy wanderingeducators.com

Soon I’ll get some photos of our market. I love going there.

And now, off to the lovely  Unknown Mami’s to see her city, and more travel from there!

With love,

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  1. Angela |Powered by Intuition Reply

    I loved this Vidya. As usual your photos are spectacular!

  2. Harleena Singh Reply

    Happy Pongal or Makar Sankranti to you Vidya! I love the feel of the festival as well and do lt us know the recipe for making the pongal of the rice and lentil dish as you mentioned 🙂 Would love to try it out 🙂

  3. It is a long story. I’ll try to piece it together and narrate it. So many stories linked to tradition. I really ought to recollect all my granma’s stories and write them. Thank you for visiting, Unknown Mami. Loving your SIMC initiative!

  4. Dear Terri! Yes, it is great fun to visit the market here. i wish we could go together! Even as a local here for twelve years now, the place still fascinates me. Shopper’s delight, without costing an arm and a leg! I love it that you enjoy these Sundays – and hope one day I can take you to these places! Thank you for the lovely comment!  Hugs to you and hoping you’re having a great Sunday!

  5. You know, Kim – the flower market smells heavenly. There’s a flower called “Champa” – I looked for the English name and wikipedia lists it as “Michelia” – these are sold in abundance where I live and the fragrance is hypnotic.  I am so happy we met, too – I love our connection, too! Big hugs and smoooch!

  6. Thank you Sheila!  When you visit India, remember that you’re staying with me. 🙂  I love the crow-sparrow story too – we have a few lines we repeat- it goes something like, “one for the crow, one for the sparrow, it is a wedding between the crow and sparrow!” 🙂

  7. Thanks, Harleena – same to you!  Pongal is easy.  Similar to khichdi. I’ll post it tomorrow 🙂 Loved your “prayer” post!

  8. Tara, many houses draw these Rangolis regularly and some of them are as big as 4 feet x 4 feet 🙂 No lie. They take hours sometimes depending on the design. I love to do them – it is very therapeutic to draw them and fill the colors 🙂 And of course, great to look at. Thank you for visiting, Tara!

  9. Oh Kimberly! I love Chunky! Apparently, among various cuisines in the world, one of the most nutritious is the South Indian meal 🙂 It has everything a balanced meal must include. Thrilled to know you’re making Indian. We’ve got such amazing variety! Hugs Kimberly – am excited about your doctors’ visit tomorrow!

  10. The Rangoli designs are gorgeous, and the festival sounds glorious. I like the idea of getting rid of (or donating) all our ‘old stuff’ and starting anew. I should do that too.

  11. Beautiful!!  The colors in your photos are amazing.  Each Sunday when I visit I feel like I’m learning so much about your culture!  Thanks Vidya!

    Oh every time I visit your blog I lonnnnnnnnnnng to visit India.  If it weren’t for that little issue of money.  LOL!  Thank you for sharing your traditions!  I adore the who crow and sparrow thing, that’s wonderful!!!!!!!!

  13. My Inner Chick Reply

    Those flowers are heavenly. I smell the sweetness of them!

    — when it whistles, I say Pongalo-Pongal—

    I like that! I can hear you saying this…

    You know what is the greatest thing about blogging? Meeting people like you who
    educate us from thousands of miles away. Thank you, dear Vidya.

    Love Love Love. Kiss Kiss Kiss. Xx

    My Inner Chick http://myinnerchick.com

  14. terrisonoda Reply

    Sundays at your place are such a treat, Vidya!   I look forward to each and every one.  These pictures are beautiful.  And the story behind?   Just as lovely!  This sounds like such a fun celebration.  It would be heavenly to visit that Malleswaram.  Thank you once again for providing your readers with a lovely, cultural experience!   HUGSSS,

  15. I absolutely love learning everything about your culture. I really do.
    PS. A funny quinky dink…I’m making an Indian dish for supper tonight with brown lentils. I don’t know what it’s called exactly. I think I got it out of a magazine. anyways, my 3 year old really loves it. He’s getting picky but Indian food? He loves.

  16. I love the vibrant colours of these pictures. Everything is a bit grey and wintery in my world at the moment.


  17. Merle Redwing Reply

    Thank you for sharing your day with me. I just happened upon your blog; the description of the festival day made my overcast and rainy Oregon day fade away for a few moments. I just happened to made lentils and rice as an experiment in cooking last Sunday; maybe I was channeling the holiday without knowing it!

  18. How sweet, Merle! Indeed, you were ushering in the festival subconsciously! So happy you came by! Do visit again!

  19. Nita Agarwaal Reply

    this Sankranthi I will make a beautiful rangoli at myself that why come on your page!!

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