Pongal special: Burning and splashing

Pongal is the very first Hindu festival on the Gregorian calendar annually. A mention of the harvest festival would often bring about images of low-key celebrations at Indian homes where families often boil a pot of milk to celebrate the birth the ‘Thai’ month in the Tamil calendar.

However, there is one element of Pongal that often gets overlooked- Boghi.

Celebrated almost subconsciously by a majority of Hindus, Boghi falls on the day preceding Pongal.

After waking up in the wee hours of morning, usually around 5 am, Indian households usually set a bonfire at the compounds of their houses and begin burning items that they deem as unwanted.

It is in this bonfire that Indian households often get rid of old clothes, old books, and many other items that congest their cupboards and cabinets.

And by the time a new dawn begins to set in, all you could find are ashes of the burned items at those compounds.

Even though many assume that Boghi is done in order to say goodbye to the Margazhi month and welcome the new month, it actually signifies and symbolizes letting go of the old habits.

This is partially due to the fact that on the same day Tamils celebrate Pongal, Telugus, another major South Indian race, celebrate Ugadhi- which marks the new year in the Telugu calendar.

Thus, in order to embrace the New Year, or quite simply the new beginning, they set on fire, along with materialistic items, their old bad habits.

In short, it’s a symbolic way of making a New Year resolution.

Pongal in Malaysia is often celebrated as a one-off festival, although, in fact, the harvest festival runs for three days.

All of these three days are celebrated widely in India, especially in the native villages where harvesting (farming) remains a major way of life.

The first day, Thai Pongal, celebrates the arrival of the ‘Thai’ month in the Tamil calendar. Maatu Pongal (cow pongal) takes place the very next day, where villagers often decorate cows and pray for more agricultural abundance.

Cows are regarded as holy animals in Hindu communities, where farmers, landowners, and even urban settlers often own a cow as a sign of blessing.

Pongal then ends with a much more joyous Kanni Pongal (known as the Virgin Pongal). Single, unmarried women celebrate this Pongal day across India, where they pray for a prosperous married life.

To top it all, single women often prepare a tumeric liquid mixture, before pouring them upon unsuspecting guys, who are the men of their preference.

Pongal starts with burning past demons and ends pretty much with splashing water on your loved one.

May this festivity bring about a positive change for all the negative habits, and also being about more love stories.

Komunitikini warmly wishes you a very happy Pongal!