In this land of varying cultures and traditions, festival form an integral part of the lives of the people here. For the same reason India is often termed as the “Land of Festivals”. There are festivals celebrated here for every occasion. Every season and every state has their own festivals that are celebrated at different times throughout the year. People are seen to take part in the celebrations and rejoicings, irrespective of the caste, creed, age and status. India is a secular country and hence the festivals of various religions are celebrated with the same zeal and enthusiasm throughout the country. During various festivals travelers from all over the country and the world are found to visit and take part in the festivals actively. The different festivals and rituals not only depict the rich cultural heritage of the country but they also symbolize the integrity and unity of the whole nation.
Pongal is perhaps the biggest festival of the state of Kerala. Pongal marks the annual harvest festival of the state and is celebrated through four long days in about mid January every year. The festival is actually the farmer’s festival and during the occasion they pay homage and respect to the Sun God, cattle’s and the nature for their contribution in the harvest. The festival also marks the Holy journey of the Sun God which is known as “Uttarayan” or summer solstice in geographic terms. The festivals are continued for four days during the festival and each day is marked by their own rituals according to the traditional culture of the state. On the first or the “Bhogi Pongal”, Lord Indra is worshipped who is known as the “God of Rains”. On the day people clean their homes and the wastes are burnt in fire. On the second day, or the Surya Pongal, Sun God is worshipped. The day marks the first day of the Tamil month Thai and is considered as the most important day amongst the four days of celebration. On the third day or the “Mattu Pongal”, cattles are worshipped for thei contribution in the agricultural activities. The fourth day is known as the “Kaanum Pongal” and on this day people visit their near and dear ones and exchange sweets and greetings.
The festival of Pongal is the most important festival of the state and people are seen to be in the best of their attires. New clothes and celebrations form an integral part of the occasion. Kerala is known as Gods own country and Pongal is the most awaited occasion of the state. Thus it proves to be one of the most popular tourist attractions and people from all over the world visit Kerala during this time of the year.