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Tamil Nadu is a land of many festivals. January marks the beginning of the festival season in the state. Pongal is the first festival and it is celebrated with much enthusiasm. It is the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu. “Pongal” is actually the name of a rice and lentil dish cooked in Tamil Nadu, and on this festive day Pongal is cooked. It is celebrated on January 14, each year. In fact, four festivals are celebrated in Tamil Nadu for four consecutive days in that week. Bhogi is celebrated on January 13, Pongal on Jan 14, Maattu Pongal on Jan 15, and Kannum Pongal and Thiruvalluvar Day on Jan 16.
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BHOGI   to rid the society of evil. People clean up their houses of all the junk that they have accumulated in the past year. All the waste stuff is burnt. Houses are freshly painted. Farm animals are bathed and decorated with colored powders and paint.


img Pongal is celebrated on the first day of the Tamil month of Thai. It is considered to be an auspicious month. The Sun God is worshipped. In rural areas, people gather in front of their houses and cook pongal in new pots. Stoves are made with clay and wood is used as fuel. When the pongal is almost made, everybody shouts in ecstasy pongal o pongal. When milk is boiled, if it overflows, it is believed to be a sign of a prosperous agricultural during the coming season.

People visit their friends and relatives. Pongal food and sweets are exchanged among neighbours and relatives. The sugarcane crop ripens at the time of Pongal. Sugarcane is harvested and it is available in markets and children can be seen crunching sugarcane.

imgMATTU PONGAL   The next day January 15, is the day for farm animals especially the bulls. Most farmers still use them to plough and till the land for irrigation. The farmer would find it difficult to survive without the bull. Bulls, cows and other farm animals are worshipped on this day. Bull fights or Manju Virattu also takes place on this day. These fights are also called Jalli Kettu.

Every house nurtures at least one bull to be a fierce fighter. The horns are periodically sharpened. Traditionally it is believed that a family loses its status if it has no bulls to participate in this fight. Farmers gather to display their fierce bulls. Each bull has a cloth tied around its neck containing money. The owner of the bull challenges the crowd that gathers to bring the bull under control and victoriously retrieve the cloth with the money from its neck. The bulls get restless and angry with the noise from the drums, whistles, shouts and even crackers that are burst. These bull fights can be fatal at times. The bulls are overpowered sometimes but it is understandably a difficult task. If the bull is overpowered, the owner of the bull has to invite the conqueror to his house and serve him a lavish meal.



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