Pongal is a festival celebrated by the people of Tamil Nadu. Pongal in Tamil means "boiling over or to spill over." The boiling of milk in clay pot signifies material abundance in the households of the rural folk. Hence Thai Pongal is celebrated during the time of harvest in order to thank the Sun God Surya. They also take special care of their live stock which helps them in their farming.
The festival happens over four days. Over these four days the festival comprises of various rituals like burning or discarding of old unneeded items, thai pongal where famlilies get together and prepare Pongal, bull taming contest and also kannum Pongal where the families visit fun places like beaches and amusement parks.
The first day of the festival is called Bhogi. It is celebrated to pay homage to Lord Indra who is considered a ruler of the clouds that gives rains. Houses are washed and cleaned. Bonfires are lit and old possessions are lit and discarded in the fire. Girls sing and dance around the bonfire in praise of the lord, harvest and the spring.
The second day of the festival is called Thai Pongal. Where the women of the household prepare Pongal on the earthen pots and make symbolical offerings to the Sun God. All people wear new traditional turmeric plant is tied around the pot in which the rice will be boiled. The offerings include the two sticks of sugar-cane in background and coconut and bananas in the dish.
The third day is known as Mattu Pongal, the day of Pongal for cows. Multi-colored beads, tinkling bells, sheaves of corn and flower garlands are tied around the neck of the cattle and then are worshiped. The entire energy around them is very festive. The cattle are given good food to eat and then people take aarthi of the cattle. Then on the same day is another festival called Jelli Kattu.
This is a contest where men showcase their bravery by trying to tame bulls. Usually a package would tied to the horns of an aggressive bull which the contestants must try and seize from it. Thousands of youth participate in the contest every year.
The fourth day is called Kannum Pongal. This is a day when the whole families usually go out and meet relatives. They also go to some nice places like beaches, amusement parks etc where they hang out and have a nice time with family.