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- ‘Pongal’ means ‘it has boiled’ and refers to the sweet rice pudding that is prepared and offered to Surya, the sun god.
- The festival is popular in South India, particularly in Tamil Nadu.
- The festival coincides with Makara Sankranti, the day the sun enters Capricorn and begins its auspicious ‘northern path’. This festival is solar, falling on January 14th (or possibly one day either side), and is celebrated throughout much of India.
- Makara Sankranti is one of the most important days for taking a bath in one of the holy rivers.
- Pongal is a celebration of renewal. On the day before, old or unwanted possessions are burned on a bonfire.
- On the first day, rice boiled with milk and sugar is offered to Surya as a thanksgiving for the harvest. New clothes are worn as a sign of a new beginning.
- On the second day, cows and bulls are washed and garlanded with flowers, and their horns and hooves decorated with paint. They are taken in procession and on this day have a rest from work.
- On the third day, people travel to visit friends, relatives and towns and cities