Makar Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated in the month of January in the hill town of Ooty. It is celebrated by the locals to offer thanks to the Sun God, the Nature, the Rain God as well as the cattle for blessing their lands with greenery and good harvest. The festival, linked with wealth and prosperity, is not just restricted to Ooty but is celebrated all around the state of Tamil Nadu.
Legends behind Pongal
There are two popular legends behind Makar Pongal.
The first legend is associated with Lord Shiva. He once asked Basava, one of his bulls, to descend on earth and ask the humans to have an oil massage and bath daily but to eat once in a month. But by mistake, Basava informed all that they should have an oil bath once in a month and should eat daily. An angered Shiva cursed Basava that he will live spend his life on earth, ploughing the fields and will help all in the production of more food.
The second is linked with Lord Krishna and Lord Indra. When Lord Indra was made the King of all Gods, he became very arrogant. Lord Krishna decided to teach him a lesson. He asked the cowherds that they should stop worshipping Lord Indra. Out of anger, Lord Indra ordered his clouds to rain continuously for three days. Krishna saved the mortals by lifting Mount Govardhan on his pinky finger by giving them shelter. Soon Lord Indra realized his mistake.
The dates of the festival of Makar Pongal depend upon the Gregorian calendar, which generally falls between 12th and 15th January. This auspicious festival is celebrated all around the county, however, with different names in every part. The festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm. In the western part, it is popular as Makar Sankranti, in the northern region it is known as Lohri, in the north-eastern state it is known as Bhogali Bihu, while in southern part of India; it is popular as Makar Pongal or Pongal.
During this festival, the people residing in Ooty, decorate their homes beautifully using flowers. Along with this, the woman of the house, draw designer motifs (rangolis) on the floor of the house using a batter which is made from pounded rice and water along with this, flower petals are also used. The name of a kind of rice pudding is also Pongal. On the day of the festival, special rice pudding is prepared in every house of Ooty, where only fresh harvested rice, jaggery and milk is used. Eating this is considered to be an auspicious thing to do.
A Tourist attraction
Ooty is flocked by thousands of tourists during the festival. The tourism department of Ooty, takes special care to make all the arrangements for this special festival.