Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated with religious fervor across Tamil Nadu, a southern state of India. Thai Pongal, as it is popularly called, is synonymous to Makar Sankranti, the harvest festival celebrated in various regions of India, on 14th of January, every year.
Pongal in Tamil means "boiling over or spill over." The boiling over of milk in the clay pot symbolizes material abundance for the household.. Thai Pongal, celebrated at harvest time, is traditionally intended to thank the Sun God and farmstead livestock that helped create the material abundance.
It is celebrated in :
Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka - as PONGAL
Andhra Pradesh, Bengal, Bihar, Goa, Karnataka, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh - as Makara Sankranthi or Sankranthi
Gujarat and Rajasthan as Uttarayana
Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab - as Lohri
Nepal as Maghe Sankranthi
In Tamilnadu, people wear new clothes, draw kolams/rangolis on the door step, consume sugar cane, prepare sweetened rice, milk and jaggery in new earthen pots and dedicate it to Sun God. The family elders present gifts to the young. Elsewhere in India, there is kite flying in Gujarat, the Jahangir Dance in Punjab and the Ganga Sagar Mela in Bengal. Millions of people immerse themselves in rivers in North India and offer prayers to the Sun God - Surya. People offer thousands of their colorful oblations to the Sun in the form of beautiful kites.
The Sun stands for “Pratyaksha Brahman” - the manifest God, who symbolizes the one, non-dual, self-effulgent, glorious divinity blessing one and all tirelessly. The Sun is the one who transcends time and also the one who rotates the proverbial wheel of time.