Hinduism and Tribal Religions

Living Edition
| Editors: Jeffery D. Long, Rita D. Sherma, Pankaj Jain, Madhu Khanna

Poṅkal (Pongal)

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1036-5_534-1


Poṅkal is a festival and a food item, both of which celebrate the good feelings and fertility associated with an abundant harvest, animals, and the sun god. This is the main harvest festival celebrated in the southern Indian state Tamil Nadu.

The holiday Poṅkal takes place over 2 days, beginning on the last day of the Tamil month Mārkaḻi and marking the start of the Tamil month Tai (Thai) in mid-January. The holiday marks the rebirth of the sun at the end of the winter solstice. In addition to its role as a harvest festival, Poṅkal has recently been appointed as the Tamil New Year. Celebrations take place in the following sequence.

Families prepare for the Poṅkal festival and new year by thoroughly cleaning the home and the purchase of new things such as new kitchen utensils, sleeping mats, and clothes. On the first day of Poṅkal, known as Pōki (Bhogi), all of the old and worn mats, clothes, and other replaced items are burned in a bonfire. This activity marks an opening for...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HumanitiesUniversity of the SciencesPhiladelphiaUSA