This festival is actually mainly celebrated to thank or show appreciation to the Sun God for giving energy towards agriculture. The people boil the first rice of the season as a tribute to the Sun God. Pongal is also the name of a dish that is very famous in the South and is cooked for most of the festivals there.
One month before the festival the females of the houses make patterns at the entrance of the houses known as Kolam with rice and colored powder. This month is called Margali and houses are whitewashed and kept ready for Pongal.
The first day is known as Bhogi and is mainly to honour Lord Indra who provides the farmers with rain. Also on this day, people get rid of something old and get something new as a sign of a new beginning. At dawn all that was gotten rid of is burnt in the bonfire.
The houses are all decorated for the forthcoming day, the horns of the buffaloes are painted. Sugar cane is an important crop on this day at least that’s what I remember because I used to be so excited each year in the hostel for the sugarcanes that our friends would bring for us.
The main Pongal falls on the second day and is called Thai Pongal (Thai is the 10th month in the Tamil Calendar). All the people wear the traditional clothes, also on this day, the husband and the wife throw away some vessels that were used for the Puja. The offering also includes sugar cane and coconut.
Mattu Pongal, the third day of the festival is mainly for the cows. Many beads, bells, flowers are tied onto the cow and most importantly a garland. They are fed Pongal and other dishes and are worshipped. They are also taken around the village so all the people can join in on this auspicious day.
The last day is called Kannum Pongal day. On this day Women put a turmeric leaf and fill it with various leftover and rice and pray for their households prosperity. It is also the day where families visit each other and many gifts are exchanged as a perfect end to a perfect festival.