In South Sankranti becomes Pongal. It is a celebration of the harvest, which is observed for three days in January. Bhogi Pongal, Surya Pongal and Mattu Pongal, are the three days of Pongal festivities on successive days. Pongal, marks the start of sun's six-month long journey northwards (Uttarayana). This observance occurs annually around January 14 each year. Hindus consider the date as auspicious.
Pongal is associated with many legends but one of the most popular ones is the legend of Govardhan Mountain and legend of Lord Shiva and his bull, Nandi. According to the legend of Govardhan Mountain, Lord Krishna lifted the mountain on his little finger on Bhogi, which is the first day of Pongal, to protect the cattle and people from Indra, an angry rain god.
According to the legend of Lord Shiva, on the third day of Pongal, Lord Shiva sent his buffalo Nandi to tell people to have oil bath daily and eat once a month. However, Nandi became confused and told people to eat daily and bath once a month. This angered Lord Shiva so he placed Nandi on earth to help humans harvest for more food, therefore Pongal became a harvest festival.
Pongal is a major celebration in India and people celebrate it for about four days. The first day is called Bhogi. Many people burn and get rid of old household items and purchase new household items on this day. This marks the start of a new cycle.
The second day is Perum, also known as Surya Pongal, and is the most important day of Pongal. Many people worship the sun god, Lord Surya by offering prayers on this day.
Mattu Pongal is the third day and includes worshipping cattle because it is believed that cattle help give a good harvest. The fourth day is called Kanum Pongal, which is when many people go on picnic and spend time with families and friends. The Pongal festival also includes exchanging gifts, dancing, and buffalo-taming contests.
Though Pongal is celebrated in the southern part of India, the festival is marked by celebrations in other parts of the country under different names like Lohri in northern part of country, Sankrant in central India and Bihu in Assam. It is also known as 'Hadaga' or 'Poki' in some part of India.
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