“Pongal” is a four-days-long festival celebrated Across South India. It is also Called as “Makar Sankranti”
For as long as people have been planting and gathering food, there has been some form of harvest festival. Pongal, one of the most important popular Hindu festivals of the year.
This four-day festival of Thanksgiving to nature is held in the month of Thai (January-February) during the season when rice and other cereals, sugar-cane, and turmeric (an essential ingredient in Tamil cooking) are harvested.
Pongal has astronomical significance: it marks the beginning of Uttarayana, the Sun’s movement northward for a six-month period. In Hinduism, Uttarayana is considered auspicious, as opposed to Dakshinaayana, or the southern movement of the sun. All important events are scheduled during this period.
The First Day
This first day is celebrated as Bhogi festival in honor of the almighty for the abundance of harvest, thereby bringing plenty and prosperity to the land.The old clothes and useless household items are burned out , significantly making everyone to think that the Worst part of life journey comes to an end and a new life starts (Thai piranthal Vazhi Pirakkum)
The Second Day
On the second day of Pongal, the puja or act of ceremonial worship is performed when rice is boiled in milk outdoors in a earthenware pot and is then symbolically offered to the sun-god along with other oblations. The offerings include sugarcane, coconut and bananas along with the dish(Sweet Pongal). A common feature of the puja, in addition to the offerings, is the kolam, the auspicious design which is traditionally traced in white lime powder before the house in the early morning after bathing.
The Third Day
The third day is known as Mattu Pongal, the day of Pongal for cows. Thanks giving to Cows Multi-colored beads, tinkling bells, sheaves of corn and flower garlands are tied around the neck of the cattle and then are worshiped. They are fed with Pongal and taken to the village centers
The Fourth Day
On the last day, Kanum Pongal, people gather as a troop and visits and their elders, go to temples and seek blessings and also will go for picnic and enjoy.
Pongal is not complete without a traditional game called as JALLIKATTU which is celebrated on the third day of Pongal. For few years Tamilnadu is starving without this festival as this has been banned, but it is the Need of the hour and let us know some features about Jallikattu.
- Jallikattu is also known as Eruthazhuvuthal or Manju virattu
- Jallikattu originated from the Tamil words Salli and Kattu, referring to silver or gold coins tied to the bulls’ horns. Later the word Salli changed to Jalli.
- Jallikattu is an ancient sport. The seals of the Indus Valley civilisation depict it, which is proof that this sport was in vogue 5,000 years ago. Ancient Tamil poetry, known as Sangam literature (2nd BCE – 2nd CE), has many detailed references to Eru Thazhuvuthal (hugging the bull).
- The main objective of Jallikattu is taming the bull. There are 3 variants namely, vati virattu, where the bull after getting released from an enclosure needs to be held on to for a predetermined distance or time to win the prize, veli virattu, participants attempt to subdue the beast in an open ground and vatam manjuvirattu, in which the animal is tied to a 50-foot-long rope with players attempting to overpower it within a specific time limit.
- Certain calves are specially reared to grow into strong bulls for Jallikattu, and these animals are trained to not allow strangers to approach them
- Temple bulls are prepared specially for Jallikattu, since they are considered the head of all cattle in a village; special rituals will be performed for them during important days.
There were 130 or so cattle breeds in India 100 years ago and now there are only 37. Unless we engage with the traditional livestock keepers and support them, we will lose these breeds as well as lay the ground for commercial cattle based dairies and slaughter houses to dominate the country
Tamil Nadu had six cattle breeds earlier and now we have lost the Alambadi breed.
Why Jallikattu Matters
- Stud bulls are reared by people for jallikattu. The ones that win are much in demand for servicing the cows. Jallikattu is the show where bulls are brought and exhibited. The ones which are most agile (and virile) are preferred by farmers. The calves from such bulls are in demand.
- The intricate connect between these events and farming can be seen from the chronological order in which showcase events like jallikattu happen first, then the shandies and then the main farming season starts. Once harvest is done, farmers take their bulls to participate in such events over the next few months; spectators and visitors make a note of the top bulls and seek them out in sandhais (cattle shandies/markets) which happen from December till April all over Tamil Nadu.
- Stud bulls are used for jallikattu and mating only. Experienced bulls enjoy the situation and display a well thought out exit from the vaadi vaasal. Many of them show off by shaking their heads as a warning. This shows their familiarity with the Jallikattu event
- Native cows do not yield as much milk as the imported breeds. So they don’t have a supportive or sponsored breeding programme. Artificial means are not adopted for native breeds. So as a fall out of the banning of jallikattu, they will soon fade away and become extinct.
So from this we can understand the importance of conducting jallikattu and how we groom ourselves for a healthy nature. India Being Top on Milk export, Considering the Facts of exports and in order to earn more revenue we are being cornered with many political reasons and jallikattu is one among this which can be visualised all around. By the Ban year by year we are losing the Cattle Breed and one fine day we should be completely dependent on migrant breeds and not on native.
Will hope for the Best and lets join hands to bring back the traditional JALLIKATTU.
DoubtsClear Team Wishes you all a Happy Pongal (Makar Sankranti)