Tamil Nadu celebrated Pongal, a major harvest festival, on Tuesday with traditional fervour.
Across the state, people got up early, put on new clothes and offered special prayers at temples.
At homes at the auspicious time, children beating a small drum shouted “Pongolo Pongal, Pongolo Pongal” when the milk started boiling over the pot as a part of preparing “Chakarai Pongal”, the special dish of the festival.
In some homes, conches are blown prior to the formal offering.
When the milk boils over, other ingredients – rice, jaggery, Bengal gram – are added to the milk and finally ghee, fried cashews, almonds and cardamom, are also added.
The mud pot or stainless steel in which the dish is cooked is decorated by tying up ginger, turmeric, sugarcane piece and banana at the neck.
The Pongal dish is offered to the sun god as thanksgiving and eaten as “prasad”. People exchanged greetings and Chakarai Pongal with their neighbours.
The Pongal festivities take place over four days, the first day being “Bhogi”, which was on Monday, when people burn their old clothes, mats and other items. Homes are painted afresh.
The second day is the main festival celebrated on the first day of the Tamil month, “Thai”.
The third day is “Mattu Pongal”, when bulls and cows are bathed and their horns painted and worshipped as they play an important role in farms.
Women feedbirds with coloured rice and pray for the welfare of their brothers.
In some parts of the state, “jallikattu” – a bull-taming sport – is held.
The fourth day is “Kannum Pongal” – the day to go out and meet relatives and friends.