India is predominantly a land of agriculture and festivals. It is hence no surprise that the season of harvest is celebrated with much grandeur, with great joy across the country. The only aspect that varies is how each state welcomes the season in their own unique manner.
Tamil Nadu- Pongal
Pongal is a four-day long festival celebrated in the Southern state of India- Tamil Nadu. The word ‘Pongal’ literally means ‘to boil’. It is named so because on the second day of Pongal- Thai Pongal, people prepare a sweet dish by boiling rice and milk together (Kheer) which is offered to the Sun god.
The festival commences by honouring Lord Indra on the first day. People collect old household items and burn them in a bonfire made of cow dung cakes.
On the third day called the Mattu Pongal, people worship cattle as they play an eminent role in growing crops. Legend has it that once upon a time, Lord Shiva sent his servant Nandi on earth to inform people that they should bath daily and eat once a month. Nandi however, mis-informed people that they should eat daily and bath once a month. An angry Lord Shiva then sent Nandi on earth to help farmers grow more crops.
On the last day of Pongal-Kannum Pongal, people enjoy a mini picnic in their courtyard with left over kheer, betel leaves, etc.
Andhra Pradesh- Sankranthi
Andhra Pradesh celebrates the harvest festival for three days.
Much like Tamil Nadu, the people here honour Lord Indra on the first day by burning old, worn-out items in the Bhogi fire. This tradition symbolises new beginnings.
The second day, called the Makara Sankranti, is the main day of this three-day long festival when people prepare Kheer using freshly harvested crops.
On the third day, people honour and worship cattle for aiding them in agricultural activities.
During this time of the year, one can spot colourful kites in the sky as flying kites on this festival is a tradition widely followed in the country.
‘Punjab’ immediately strikes an image of lush green agricultural fields and a joyous, vibrant culture. Their harvest festival is also as colourful as their heritage.
10-15 days prior to the main festival, children of the town go around their neighbourhood singing folk songs and asking for wood logs. It is considered inauspicious to send them back empty handed. Hence, people offer sesame seeds, peanuts, jaggery, etc. These collections made by the children are called “Lohri”. This is then distributed during the celebrations at night.
The people here also light up a bonfire to which they add til (sesame seeds) and gud (jaggery) symbolising the end of old days and new beginnings. They dance around the fire as a tribute to the holy god of fire.
Many other states celebrate this season of harvest in a similar fashion.
Assamese call it Magh Bihu while people of Himachal Pradesh call it Magha Saaji and in Uttar Pradesh it is known as Kicheri.
In Maharashtra, a simple dish is prepared by mixing sesame seeds and jaggery and they distribute this sweet among their friends and family asking them to maintain cordial relations.
Despite differences in languages, cultures and traditions, India is united by its innate nature of being an agricultural country and hence, this festival is dear to one and all.
This festive season, we hope happiness and success find their way to you and your dear ones.
Team Artisanscrest wishes you a very Happy harvest festival.