Starting today, Pongal will be celebrated across South India from 14th January-17th January.
As you enter the New Year, you shouldn’t be surprised to look at the holiday calendar as the first month itself is filled with all kinds of festivities. While Lohri is a huge harvest festival of North India, particularly Punjab, and is celebrated on 13th January annually, the celebrations for Makar Sankranti, Magh Bihu and Pongal coincide, beginning today. The former is a festival in the northern parts of the country while the latter are associated with the North-East and South respectively. Different kinds of rituals and traditions are undertaken during this day according to the regions but one thing that remains constant is the essence of the day.
All of them are harvest festivals, in spirit, marking the northward movement of the Sun and the end of winter season. People are hopeful for brighter days and abundant harvest in the coming year. For instance, Lord Agni is worshipped on Lohri by means of lighting up a bonfire. On Makar Sankranti, the Sun God is hailed with offerings of til and gud. Similarly, people in South India rejoice when Pongal arrives and appease to a variety of Gods during the four-day festival. Pongal, literally means to boil or overflow. That’s how rice and jaggery in milk are served to the God as prasad on this auspicious occasion.
On each of the four days, different rituals are performed. Day one is marked by discarding of old domestic articles and the freshly cut sugarcane, rice and turmeric produce. This is followed by day two wherein the rice is boiled with milk and gud to give a delectable dish. On the third day, Lord Shiva and Parvati are worshipped along with special care for the cattle. Finally, the last day is commemorated with feelings of hope and new bonds.
Since a lot goes on during Pongal and it is a significant festival across the South Indian states, it isn’t possible that there are no feasts. Amidst the feasts, you’ve got some lip-smacking items to savour the sweet tooth. Here are some of them that you can try.
1. Kadalai Paruppu Payasam
Do you know what’s payasam? It’s nothing but a South Indian version of your loved kheer. This kadalai paruppu payasam is different as it is not made from rice or vermicelli but chana dal. The brown-coloured payasam is thick and soft in taste. With the sweetness of jaggery, this dessert is naturally sweet and has the crunchiness of roasted cashews in it too.
A festive-special treat, bobbatlu is a close cousin of puran poli from Maharashtra. These sweet rolls of jaggery are made with a dough of wheat flour and chana dal. These are then rolled into cylindrical shape and fried in oil. The crispy and crunchy bobbatlus are a delight during Pongal.
Rice is an important part of Pongal celebrations and this dessert is a special one. Rice is cooked along with jaggery and dry fruits in milk. Oodles of ghee go into the making of this delectable dessert. Since it is made with jaggery, it can be considered a healthier version of sugar-loaded desserts.
4. Sakkarai Pongal
The most awaited dessert of Pongal is the Sakkarai pongal or sweet pongal. This heavenly sweet dish is a perfect combination of rice, moong dal, milk and ghee. Add to this some cashews for the crunch and raisins for the sweetness and enjoy. This special dessert, which is made in a brass pot, is a prasad that is offered to the Sun God and then eaten by the family members, to their heart’s content.
These are dark-brown coloured balls of rice, banana and urad dal. These are deep-fried and loaded with grated jaggery. The sweet balls are a perfect dessert snack that is relished on festive occasions like Onam sadya and Pongal.