Its Makarasankranti and my daughter is experiencing the Gujarat Kite festival for the first time. She was amazed with the dedication that people went about buying the kites. When her friend’s father told her that it used to an event to make kites and one would begin weeks before. Kite flying was a fun way of celebrating the free flight, the ability to fly high. It was also the best way to get exposed to the sunlight and absorb VitD
Unfortunately, we have brought it down to rituals and culture, we have forgotten the fundamental power to celebrate. We seek to be amused or entertained. Celebration is a very active state of expressing reverence or appreciation. To be entertained is rather passive… like receiving pleasure afforded by an amusing act or spectacle…while celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one’s acts.
The jubilant “PONGAL-O-PONGAL’ is celebrating the abundance as it overflows from the container. Pongal or Huggi as we call it kannada is the overflow of rice.
It is about revering and appreciating the farmer and effort that went into the produce. it is about waking up to new beginnings with the onset of spring. Huggi-Pongal has been practiced since the Sangma time. It begins with the 10th day of the Magha masa.
The first day or the Bhogi is dedicated to Indra the lord of rains. He is thanked for the giving us the appropriate quantity of rain. Children below 5yrs are gathered and showered with wild berries and sweets. In the Mysore tradition ‘sakkare acchu’ or sugar toys are made. This is then shared with family and friends.
The second day or the Makarasankranti is dedicated to the Sun God, the Perum Pongal. It is about celebrating the sun and thanking the sun for energy that the sun provides. Sabarimala celebrates this day as Makarajyothi with Makaravilekku that is when the star Sirius is sighted on the horizon from Ponnambalamedu.
The third day is the mattu Pongal when the animals are honored. The folklore goes that Lord shiva told his Basava the bull to tell people to bathe daily and eat once a month. But in his confusion the Basava reversed the information. Angry Shiva cursed Basava to toil the fields for man by ploughing the field.
The last day that is Kaanum Pongal is about family reunions. Siblings sharing gifts and left overs from the three days of the festivals are given away to cattle and the earth.
Traditionally kannada houses share ‘yellu-bella’ and it usually made in the form of Yellundai or til ka laadu. This year however since my in-laws are senior I thought a softer version might be more comfortable for them to eat. Sharing my recipe in the next post.
The festival is dedicated to goddess Pongal… another name for Goddess Katyayani.