” Pongal – the Solemn, Extolling, and ‘Unique’ Celebration ” – January 14, 2021.

 

Farmers in India today remain at least  50%  ‘de’ – ‘lighted’  when their sweat and toil to feed humanity is usually celebrated in a big manner to keep them delighted. The Supreme Court stay on the Farm Laws is a solace of sort though.

I liken ‘Pongal’ to the marriage of heaven and earth, sky and the soil. 

I also like to see Nature and Life meeting and greeting each other to bless and energise us all, People . Let it also symbolise the purification of every soul.

           Paddy and Sugarcane greet the farmers and their five plus the sixth sense(s) with the gift of an El Hombre Dorado on this auspicious day. The land will become bare soon, though. They, however,  will stand rewarded overall.

           “That  Sun God will change the direction of His chariot from east to west and take His position in Makara Rasi on this day is the main significance”, my mother used to tell all her children, every Pongal day.

           At home, she will pour fresh milk in a vessel, allow it to boil as the Sun rises, and when it flows out – a wish chant  “Pongalo, Pongal”  will be  voiced or sung rhythmically. A stainless steel plate and a short stick will make for the drum beats. Moments of elevated enjoyment for the kids. Makes me remember my elementary school days in particular.

          “Watch the direction of the flow of milk. If it flows to the east, the year for you is deservedly prosperous” –  will say my parents to all of us, children.  Granted for sure. 

          In Karnataka and Andhra, specially, I had seen it customary for people to exchange a mound or a collection of ‘fried gram’  mixed with bits of coconut, a sugarcandy doll, along with sugarcane and betel leaves. Experienced on several occasions. For a decade atleast in late 1970s to mid 1980s. Glorious period, professionally and socially really. I was blessed with an Engineering and a Management Doctorate degree (earned) during that period.

           In Maharashtra, I have seen people exchanging gingelly seeds and jaggery saying, “Til gud de, god god bol”  meaning  ‘Take the jaggery with gingelly seeds and speak good words’. Nearly another decade of glory and prosperity for me professionally in the proud financial capital of India.

           Gujarat is as ever adventurous, I learn, with kite making and kite flying in jest. Happy to have witnessed Dandiya Raas and Navaratri on five occasions in Ahmedabad, Baroda, Vapi, Rajkot and Surat but missed Pongal everytime. Great time here too.

           Different parts of the country celebrate with different connotations and practices of their own. Delhi’s RK Nagar Tamil Sangham celebration is special without a doubt, (thanks mainly to their excellent organisational efforts I could be a part of the contingent visiting Haridwar and Rishikesh in the summer of 1976). Calcutta’s Grand Hotel , Chowringhee Road area;  Sealdah’s  Vilas Park;  and the Howrah bridge connecting Howrah and Kolkata (ecstatic Hooghly river front communion ) with its star style celebrations stir nostalgic memories. Leh’s  bunker celebration with army (all during my first Defense tenure – 1975_1977 ) remains unforgettable. Ludhiana’s Nehru Rose Garden merriment (  Dayanand Medical college Tenure) ever lingers in memory. Jaipur’s Kathputli puppet dance (  Jaipur Medical college Tenure) accended my interest.  Gaya folk dance (Magadh  Medical  college  Tenure July/Sep. 1974 ) marking the first rung of my professional ladder was a pleasant experience.

Wistfully longing to have another bite at the cherry all over again, if showered.

           In Tamil nadu it is a three day festival – Pongal,  Mattu Pongal (when cows and bulls are decorated with new iron hoofs and new ploughs leaving them free to graze around), and Kaanum Pongal ( when women/ladies pray for their brother’s health and prosperity ).

           I can vouch for the fact that no other festival in the world has the distinction of connecting  “human beings, birds, animals, and plants”  –  all with the Mother Earth like Pongal.

           Hence, the  ‘unicity’  of  ‘Pongal’,  an Indian “Thanksgiving”  to the  Sun God.

           Greetings to everyone on this occasion.

“Dieu avec nous”

Thursday, January  14, 2021 –  11.01 a.m. (IST).

Tidbit  :  ” Let our farmers’  harvest be celebrated with peace, health, and prosperity “.

 

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