Pongal is a harvest festival dedicated to Lord Surya. The festival is celebrated in Tamil Nadu and is a four day festival which almost always falls from January 14th to January 17th. Pongal marks the start of six month long journey northwards. The festival is celebrated to offer prayers to Lord Surya for a successful harvest. This festival is also knows by the name of Makar Sankranti, Uttarayana and Maghi, celebrated in different Indian states.
A dish named Pongal is served on the festival Pongal. The dish is prepared from rice, milk, raisins and nuts. The dish is cooked in sunlight in porch or courtyards as the dish is dedicated to the Lord Surya. The dish is prepared in a clay pot and is served on banana leaves. Cooking pongal is a traditional practice in the state of Tamil Nadu. The first day of the festival is called Bhogi, on which day people discard old belongings and celebrate new possessions. The next day is Thai Pongal, on which day the dish Pongal is prepared. The third day is Maatu Pongal, to appreciate cattle for providing dairy products, fertilizers, and labor for plowing and transportation. The last day of the festival is Kaanum Pongal, which marks the end of Pongal festivities for the year. Many families plan reunions on this day. People visit each other and thank each other for their assistance.
Apart from Tamil Nadu, the festival is celebrated in other South Indian states Telangana and Andhra Pradesh as well. The festival is also celebrated in some other countries like Sri Lanka, Mauritius, South Africa, Singapore and Malaysia. Pongal is one of the most important festivals in Tamil calendar and has been celebrated for over a thousand years.