KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, January 13, 2013 (The Star): Malaysia's Tamil Hindu community celebrates on Monday its best-loved festival, Pongal, the only festival which follows a solar calendar to mark the beginning of Uttarayana, the Sun's movement northward for a six-month period. To usher in the harvest festival, the community is buying an assortment of colorfully-decorated clay pots, wooden ladles and sugar canes.
Pongal, spread over four days, marks the harvest of crops and a special thanksgiving to God, the Sun, Earth and the cow that produces milk in abundance.
One of the longest celebrations in the Tamil calendar kicks off Sunday with Bhogi, when old and unused household items are burned, and the house is thoroughly cleaned to prepare for the start of a new cycle.
Malaysian Hindu Sangam President R. S. Mohan Shan said the second day of Pongal on Monday, is known as Thai Pongal which marks the first day of the Tamil month of Thai. "On this day, family members gather in their homes to prepare Pongal (sweet) rice, to offer to the Sun God, in gratitude for ministering his blessings, and later serving all, followed by lunch.
"For Indians, it is auspicious to look at the boiling milk and when the milk overflows from the pot, everyone shouts "pongal o pongal." Then, rice, and other items like jaggery, cashew nuts, raisins, turmeric and spices are added to make the Pongal," said Mohan Shan.
Mattu Pongal is the third day of celebration which includes worshipping cattle because it is believed that cattle helps give a good harvest while the fourth day is Kanni Pongal when unmarried women make pongal and pray for good husbands.