History and Legends of Pongal

Apr 7




  • Share this article on Facebook
  • Share this article on Twitter
  • Share this article on Linkedin

Pongal has been in celebration for years. Some historical inscriptions refer to the Sangam era: 200 B.C. To 300 A.D.


 The festival is mentioned in Sanskrit Puranas; it has records to be celebrated by Thai Un and Thai Niradal,History and Legends of Pongal Articles which are also believed to be celebrated during the Sangam era. Pongal very first was celebrated as the Dravidian Harvest festival, and since then, the festivity has been going on, marking the harvest season.


Let’s dig down the history of Pongal and the legends associated.


Observance of Pongal During the Sangam Era


The origin of the Pongal celebration dates back to the Sangam era. However, with time, the rituals are modified a bit, and now people celebrate Pongal a bit differently.


In the olden days, young girls used to observe fast for the long life and health of their families. They used to pray for the rain so they could grow grains in the fields. During the fasting, they would follow many practices such as not oiling the hair and practicing sweet speech and good thoughts.


Women used to bathe early throughout the month, and they avoided all dairy products. Then they would worship Goddess Katyayani made of wet sand. These women would break their fast on the first day of the Thai month, which is the duration between January and February. This penance was believed to bring sufficient rain for the crops and to make agriculture possible.


Some inscriptions also state that Chola King Kiluttunga used to gift pieces of land to the temple for the proper celebration of Pongal.


However, time is changed, and so is the celebration of Pongal. Now young girls do not observe any fast; however, the whole family actively participates in the event and celebrates it for four days.


Legends of Pongal


There are two major legends associated with the Pongal celebration. One of these is about Lord Shiva, and another one calls the almighty Krishna.


According to the legend related to Shiva, once Shiva sent his Nandi bail or Basava to Earth and asked the people to have an oil massage and bath every day and to eat once a month. His bull reached the Earth; however, it delivered the wrong message. The Basava asked the people to eat daily and have an oil bath once a month.


This infuriated Lord Shiva, and he cursed the bull to live on Earth forever. Shiva assigned the bull with the task to plow the field with the farmers and help them grow the crops. Since then, the bull has been associated with cattle, and he receives respect from the farmers for assisting them and making farming possible.


Another legend is related to Lord Krishna and Indra. People of Mathura used to worship Indra every year as they believed that Indra was the Lord who made the rain happen. Instead of showing humility, Indra got filled with pride and got infused with ego.


Lord Krishna knew about the egoistic nature of Indra. To teach him a lesson, he asked the village people not to worship Indra. Krishna explained how it is the mountain Govardhan that brings the rain, provides them wood, and grass for their animals.


The next time people only worshipped Govardhan and left Indra unworshipped. The arrogant Indra flooded the land with heavy rain, and there was no shelter left for the people and animals. Krishan understood that Indra was trying to prove himself to the people.


Lord Krishna then presented his compassion and the almighty avatar by lifting the Govardhan mountain itself on just his little finger. All people realized that Krishna was no one else but the Lord himself. Every living being got shelter under the mountain for many days until the rain stopped.


Indra realized that Krishna was the almighty and not any normal child. He then stopped the rain and asked forgiveness for his cruel and egoistic act. Krishna being the epitome of compassion, forgave Indra. Since then, people have worshiped Govardhan along with Lord Krishna as a giver of food and rain.


Pongal Celebrations


Pongal celebrations go on for four days, namely: Bhogi Pongal, Surya Pongal, Mattu Pongal, and Kaanum Pongal.


On the first day, people clean the household and throw away the clutter. They burn this clutter in the fire and organize the useful stuff.


On the second day, they worship the Sun, which is the provider of energy and keeps our solar system intact. On this day, people prepare the famous Pongal and offer it to Sun before distributing it with each other.


On the third day, they worship their animals as a way of expressing gratitude. Farmers worship their cattle, such as cows and bulls that help them in the fields and give them milk.


The fourth day is about praying for the family and organizing an event like Bhai Dooj, which is celebrated in North India.