People of Tamil Nadu on Friday celebrated Pongal with fervour, getting up early, donning new clothes and visiting temples.
The festival of Pongal is celebrated to thank the Sun, rain and farm animals.
At homes, the aroma of ghee-fried cashews, almonds and cardamom wafted through as the traditional dish of rice, jaggery and Bengal gram was made.
As the ingredients of Chakarai Pongal boiled in milk, people called out ‘Pongolo Pongal, Pongolo Pongal’.
The mud pot or stainless steel in which the dish is cooked is decorated by tying up ginger, turmeric, sugarcane pieces and bananas at the neck.
The Pongal dish is offered to the Sun god as thanks giving and eaten as ‘prasad‘. It is made at an auspicious time and in some homes conches are blown prior to the formal offering.
People exchanged greetings and Chakarai Pongal with their neighbours.
The Pongal festivities take place for over four days, the first day being Bhogi, which was on Thursday when people burn their old clothes, mats and other items. New paints are applied on homes.
The second day is the main Pongal festival celebrated on the first day of the Tamil month Thai, that is on Friday.
In villages, sweet pongal is cooked in the open ground.
The third day is the Mattu Pongal when bulls and cows are bathed and their horns painted and worshipped as they play an important role in farms.
Women feed the birds with coloured rice and pray for the welfare of their brothers.
The fourth day is the Kannum Pongal – the day to go out and meet relatives and friends, and go site seeing.
However, according to reports, in localities like Alanganallur in Madurai district, famous for Jallikattu or bull vaulting sport, Pongal celebrations were low key as the sport was banned by the apex court.