Between 13th and 17th of January is called Makara Sankranti or the Pongal. In this Pongal there are various types.
There is what is called as Bhogi which is celebrated, and Lord Indra is supposed to be the God who brings rain and thunder and lightning, so celebrations are done in his name. And houses are cleaned and washed and decorated and they are kind of re-consecrated for the new year by using certain materials like mango leaves and a certain amount of the first cut of the paddy crop that has come, to enhance the life vibrance in this. And the Bhogi always brings out all the unnecessary things in one’s home. This should also be done with one’s life that all the unnecessary things should be gotten rid of in this season, so that life begins fresh.
So this tradition has not only agricultural undertones to it, there is a celestial undertone to it, and a spiritual undertone to it, and this is because the yogis practice a certain thing that common people took it up in a different way as it’s relevant to themselves.
Makar is most important for the yogis because they all make a new fresh effort towards their spiritual process and accordingly, people who are in family and normal situations, they also make a fresh attempt in whatever they are doing in their lives. So this is the beginning of a new cycle that we have completed twenty-seven nakshatras or hundred and eight padas around the Sun, and it’s a new beginning and a new cycle.
The Pongal celebrations itself are broken into four forms – there is Bhogi and then there is Mattu Pongal, that is honoring all the animals which play an important role in making the agricultural process happen. Well, today it’s all machines which have come in, but you can’t grow food out of just machines. If you do not put the animal waste into the land there will be no question of producing any agricultural produce. So animals which work in the farms have always been very important part and on this day, the bulls and cows which made the life of pastoral communities are worshiped and they are decorated, they’re painted up and all kinds of things are done to them in terms of, you know pampering them in so many different ways. The idea is to recognize that how important a role they have in the making of our lives.
And the next day is the Kaanum Pongal. It’s a community affair, that means that means to go and see people. So it has various ingredients of cleansing up, of appreciating and expressing gratitude to all the creatures who are involved in making up our lives, and then getting involved with the community that you have to go and meet people on that day. It is a time of festivity and with the advent of modern life, we should not remain hooked on to televisions and computers, it’s time to come out and celebrate, feel the air, feel the change in the weather, feel the change in what’s happening within yourself because of the changes that are happening in the planet.