11 January, 2006

Pongalo Pongal

The early morning mild cold used to be so nice in the month of December. We always used to feel like sleeping more. It is the time when we used to have those Half year term exams and then holidays. Maths used to be the third exam after English and Tamil. Science being the fourth and then History and Geography. Once that is over, big plans will be going on in everyone's mind of how to spend the holidays. 'Margazhi' month always had its unique feeling. We can hear hymns and Devotional Songs from various temples. TMS will be singing 'Muruganai koopitu' and MS will be singing 'Bhaja Govindam' in a different speaker. Ladies will be making pongal according to the pasurams of Thiruppavai. Everyone knows that 'Sakkarai Pongal' has to be made for 'Koodarai Valli'. After all this comes Pongal. In the meantime New year would have come and gone. It used to be a real mutli cultural and multi religion look in the midnights. When the Ayyappa groups used to return back from late night poojas, the Christian youth groups used to visit homes for Carols. Josephs and Viveks used to say 'hi' and introduce their friends to each other. Oh...what a unity in diversity! I remember walking with my friends in the midnight to see the Church being decorated. Once all these fever gets over then comes Pongal.

I remember Pongal as a farmer festival, only after getting introduced to 'Sekar'. They had lots of cows in their house, and supplied milk to all the neighbourhood. Just a day before the bhogi, all children will mark the arrival of bhogi by playing a small drum. All the neighbourhood will start hiding the normal wooden stuff that used to lie in the garden. Previous night to Bhogi, all those naughty boys will return from the Theatre after seeing the second show (Probably MGR picture) and peep in to every house to flick wooden gates or some wooden materials to burn in front of their house shouting "Bhogi". I remember my Dad locking the gate with a long iron chain and big locks. The thieves will not spare even the 'Raatinam Kayiru' (the pulley used to draw water from the well). On the Bhogi day everyone used to burn their old stuff in front of their house. My mother was very specific in not burning any plastics in those days itself. She always used to keep all the dried leaves fallen from our trees and plants. We had lots of December plants in our house and my sister and myself had the duty of plucking them and selling it to our neighbourhood. We sold in turns and thus started earning our pocket money. Only when I grew up, I realised Pongal is a Farmer's festival more than all these. Sekar described a lot about Pongal and started painting the cows horns. Then he used to decorate his bullock cart and tie balloons to the cart. My mother never allowed me to go in the bullock cart shouting 'Pongalo Pongal'. But we have enjoyed hanging at the back of bullock cart as far as we could. All the bullocks would have got terrified with the sound and must have run because of the unusual sound. The big bells tied on their neck will be making great sound and also some salangai will be tied to give more background music. We as kids thought the bullocks were very happy. Sekar explained me how it is celebrated among farmers. Oh.....those were wonderful days.

Years have rolled by. Last November when I visited home town went and met Sekar. His house had been modified and they have sold all their lands and cows. I could see a huge Swaraj Mazda and few ambassadors in front of his house. He is running a travels agency. Even today he comes to receive me at the Airport, and is there to send me off.

I really feel for my kids.... When I am writing this blog my kids are talking about the latest model of IPOD and hip hop songs.

Will the bloggers meet in Milton Keynes(UK) on 15/01/06 give us a feel of home. Let us hope.

Wish you all a happy Pongalo Pongal!

(For those who do not know what Pongal is... it is a farmer's festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu)

17 comments:

revatechnic said...

wow you had a lot of memories ah?
Down here, it is never a public holiday in singapore.
If pongal occurs on a weekday, then my mother wakes up at about 5 in the morning, makes the pongal, does the necessities and go to work.
I will have the pongal for breakfast before heading of to work or school.
Thats about it.
But i did have a feel of bhogi and pongal in Mannargudi once, in my grandmother's place. It was soo fun. All that Mathaappu, Vedi, and burning of old stuff.
I hope to celebrate another pongal in Tamil Nadu.

Narayanan Venkitu said...

Balaji, Nice memories.!! Yeah, I miss those days too.!!

Nothing here..!! Just another day.!! Too many 'Maadus' around.!! So we might celebrate Mattu pongal.!! :)

வேதா said...

Thats a very good narration of the festival of pongal. Though there are many changes around, mattu pongal is still celebrated with all its colors in chennai. The spirit of festivals are still hanging around. Unlike deepavali, pongal holidays are for four days, so children enjoy much more. meanwhile did u enjoy eating sakkarai pongal for koodaravalli.

வேதா said...

hi,i forgot to mention that the photo is really good with less lighting. is that u?

Jeevan said...

For us the Half-year exams will over before december 21. so we have leave form dec 21 to January 2. we will go only for a week to our schools, and the pongal will come, before the Pongal day we all disscus in our friends, how they will celebrate there pongal. we will draw the Pongal Pot, Sugarcane and some time put kolam in our class board and write happy Pongal. we will pray to god that pongal should come on thursday, because, we will not have leave for Bhogi, so when the pongal come on thursday, we will get four days leave.

on the pongal day, every year my mom used to cook Pongal in cooker, but two years back i compled my mom to buy a pot and cook Chakara Pongal on that. i will start eating sugarcans a week before the Pongal.

on Pongal day we take the pongal pot to the open place in front of my home and show the karpuram to the sun and shout Pongalo pongal. my mom used to cook venpongal, chakara pongal sundal, and vadai and we eat it watching the specail program in TV. We expect the Mattu Pongal very much, becuse we used to go to my grandpa's housed, my grandpa have many cow and buffalo so he will put bath the cows and paint there kombu (bough). and take them to temple. Wish you a Happy Pongal friend. you have a nice memories.

Loga said...

ur narration of pongal really reminded me of my school days where we would celebrate pongal in cuddalore @ my grandpa's home !!!

Those were golden days !!Here Its jus another day !!

By the way Happy Pongal to u and ur family !!

Jo said...

Is this pongal festival similar to Onam of Kerala?

And its good to hear that there is a blogger meet coming up there. :-)

Happy Pongal!!!

visithra said...

unless u impart to them the meaning of ponngal and celebrate at home they arent gonna know ;)

but nicely written ;)

visithra said...

ps : what camera do u use?

Prabu Karthik said...

gas adupiley samaichu TV la patti mandram parthuttu pongal saaptu oru generationey vandhiruchu sir.

pretty nostalgic post.

WA said...

Wow vivid description, nalla enjoy paneerukeenga pongal. Wish you a very Happy Pongal and Have a wonderful time in Milton Keynes.

Adaengappa !! said...

Sir, your post took me to the past :-) Good old days,but those memories are to be cherished forever !!

Balaji S Rajan said...

Revatechnic - Wow... nice to hear about your celebration in Mannargudi. It looks like you get sugarcane and all the needed items for celebrating Pongal in Singapore.

NV - Thanks da. I miss those days.

Veda - Yes.. I have enjoyed eating Sakkarai pongal. Thanks for your comments about the picture. It is not me. It is my Mom.

Jeevan - Very nice to hear that you have enjoyed celebrating Pongal. Yes the way it is celebrated in the Villages is excellent. After all it is a farmer's festival.

Loga - Thanks for visiting. Yes days are changing according to the places we live.

Jo - I am not sure about Onam. I had been in Kerala during Onam days. But do not know whether it is similar to Pongal. Pongal is a farmer's festival. The farmers thank the Nature God especially Sun, for being good through out the year, and the Nature God helping them for a good harvest. We can almost say it is a thanks giving day by farmers to the nature and their cattles which enabled them to earn their bread and butter.

Visithra - I own a Nikon FM2 fully manual operated camera.

PK - Thanks..

Wicked Angel - Thanks for your wishes. We did have wonderful time in Milton Keynes. Read my latest post.

Adengappa - Thanks... yes memories are to cherished forever.

There is a small mention about this post in
http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/globalvoices/-/world/south-asia/india/

susubala said...

Hey, your experience on Margazhi Madam and Pongal etc was very nice. Ofocurse, now the younger generations are totally different from ours and their interests are on different things.

Even my Brother-in-law bought a drum for my children the previous day to Bogi and encouraged my son to some extent and left the drum in my in-laws place (they stay in 1st floor) itself, thinking that my son will play around late in the night. That drum has got a real sound you see... whenever it is placed on floor and strike it will not give much of sound effect, but when u hold it in hand and strike it, then the sound effect really beats the digital stereos used now-a-days.

rajesh said...

yours is correct. i enjoying every moments of the day. my mom never restrict me on that day. i think and enjoying my past golden moments.because i am not like you, i am like your friend sekar. we have evry thing.like cow, bullock cart.but not now. we sold every thing. that golden days never comes to me again. but by reading your article i enjoying the moments of past in the present.
thanks.

atulya said...

hi dear,

kolam pottu kattathey enna pongal?
any way nice to read your pongal memories.

atulya sharma
dubai
atulyaarjun@gmail.com

mint said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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