Features

Let's start with Bhogi

Margazhi, which is synonymous with Tiruppavai and Thiruvembavai, witnesses a month of spiritual and cultural events occurring in various parts of the metropolis and, of course, in the charming villages. The crescendo builds up to Andal kalyanam on the final day of Margazhi which is followed by hectic festive activities, the three-day Pongal festivities.

The first day of the Tamil month of Thai is called Makara Sankaranti or Pongal.    According to lore, Uttrayana dawns, which is a harbinger of bounty. Uttaryana spans a period of six months from January 15 to July 15, after which Dakshinayana sets in.

Pongal can be also be termed the Harvest Festival and Framers Festival. Fresh produce from agrarian countryside flood the markets. Cows are worshipped and there is enjoyment and merriment which is discernible everywhere.

Freshly grown paddy – rice -  which is a staple food of south Indians, is offered to the Gods. Spread over three days - Bhogi, Pongal and Maattu or Kanu Pongal - the harvest festival encompasses a huge festive spread of sweet and savoury.

Bhogi

Though city folks also celebrate this festival, the real pulse is felt in the villages which reflect the ethos of our country.

People clean and clear their houses and get rid of the useless stuff. Since the unwanted stuff go – 'po' in Tamil - it came to be called Bhogi.

Every house gears up for the festival a day in advance. Womenfolk wake up at dawn   and clean the courtyard.

In villages, the mud floor is smeared with cow dung and a huge intricate pulli kolam decorates it. Chemman – red paste - borders the kolams, enhancing the appearance. A pumpkin flower on a ball of cow dung is the diadem of the elaborate kolam

In villages, young boys and girls wake up at pre-dawn and burn the waste in front of their houses. 'Bhogi O Bhogi' rents the air. The shout is accompanied by the beat of a tiny melam.

The house is tidied and adorned with kolam inside also.

I remember fighting with my siblings to draw the exotic kolams.

Festive spirit permeates the atmosphere and there is jubilation around. Boli is a special delicacy prepared for Bhogi festival.

The usual payasam and vada form part of the meal on Bhogi besides boli.

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