Friday, January 13, 2006

Pongal - o - Pongal

Have you made Pongal in a mud pot facing the sun ? Well it is an experience in itself.. Let me try to tell you how we celebrate Pongal at our school.. its done the traditional way..

Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated in praise of the Sun God. In school, we had twelve groups each representing one zodiac sign or one month of the year. In other words the 12 raashis.. We would have rangolis of each of the zodiac signs in front of our chullas.. In the center would be a giant Rangoli of a Ratham( a Chariot) which was the vahana of the Sun God. We would spend the previous evening making this one.. Margazhi pani illa dupatta vai talai illa potundu colour kolam potundu hmmm...those were the days ..

The Pongal(read as ponga) paanaigal(Earthen pots), were placed in front of the Deity of our choice.. Once the karpooram (Camphor) was lit and the bells struck, we would take our Pannai to our respective zodiac houses and get ready to make the pongal..

The pongal is made this way .. If I remember right.. First the paanai is placed on a tripod chulla. We then light the firewood and the chulla is ready.. The worst part about a chulla is that the smoke really smokes u :) and u have to continuously keep fanning it.. Wonder how ppl cooked before the LPG days ...We then pour milk and water and wait for it to boil. When it comes out ( didnt find a very apt word for pal pongaradu) we say,'Pongal -O- pongal' and put the rice and the dal in it to cook. We then add jaggery and ghee and keep stiring it until it is cooked... Once it is done we garnish it with raisens and cashews ...

We even had a competition as to which team would say "pongal-o-pongal' first.. It is really thrilling to wait anxiously for the 'pal' to 'pongu'( er.. no other better way to put it in english :). The excitement that you get when your pongal is made and that too when u have never entered the kitchen and this is your first attempt :):) . Then we go around tasting the pongal from the other team. It is served in the traditional 'donnai' (A cup made of Lotus leaves)

Its fun to make pongal out in the open, facing the Sun, decorating your pot and your zodiac sign and wearing a sari :).. its nice to do a lot of things for the first time and even better when u can show what you have made to your parents ( they didnt believe that I er.. we made it :) Did I tell you about the pongal.. Well it had a totally different flavour..( no it wasnt burnt ).. the earthy taste combined with the smell of burnt firewood..and yummy with the cooked pongal soaked in Ghee... A different flavour .. a flavour that we can never get from a cooker pongal.. :)

Happy Pongal To all of you!!!!!


Seagull said...

Hmm, well last year we celebrated Lohri in our SP Jain campus. In a way it all coincides ~ one good thing about b-schools in a way. They bring people from so many cultures brought together. And there is so much similarity. Especially, the Karimbu part. Of course, we had lot of couples formed in the campus by then and this was the best occasion to bring them all out in the open. OK I know this is an arbit comment.

Happy pongal :)

Raghavendra Vema said...

Happy Pongal..

Vidya said...

@Mr.Seagull - yup a very arbit comment.. Happy Pongal to you too

@Ragha - Happy Pongal to u too :)

Naveen said...

I missed Pongal this time..Hope you had a nice one!!

kaushik said...

very nicely written.
I have always felt that festivals celebrated in a community is more fun. your blog reminds me of my college days when almost all festivals were celebrated in our crikcet ground..holi, shankranthi, matka phod on gokulashtami,diwali, new yrs...and the fun in it was incredible

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Jennifer said...

Hi Vidya,
This is a great post! I wish I could have been there with you! Do you have photos? I am trying to find new ways to decorate for Pongal this year. Maybe your photos can inspire me!
When you find time, stop by my Pongal page - Pakka Pongal Celebration in Tamil Nadu Village.