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Thai Pongal

The four day harvest festival is dedicated to Sun God Suriyapakaran. It falls between mid- January (Tamil month of Thai); when the Sun enters Capricorn (Makara). An essential part of Sri Lankan culture, Thai Pongal is the First Rice Festival also known as Ulavar Thirunaal

The Legend Behind Thai Pongal
As per local folklores, Lord Shiva asked His Divine Vehicle Nandi Bull to go to earth and announce to people they will eat once in a month and take oil bath daily. Nandi, in a state of confusion went to the earth and told the people to eat daily and bathe once in a month. Lord Shiva got annoyed by this and cursed Nandi to live on earth and work with the people in the fields for ploughing. Since then, people get up early in the morning and boil rice in earthen pots in front of their house. While boiling, they cry out “Pongal Pongal Auchu”, that means It is boiling.  

Making Kolams
Every house in Sri Lanka, "Kolam" (Rangoli) is drawn in front yards of houses, with rice flour paste. This custom is to feed the ants and insects to receive their blessings. In the centre of the Kolam, a lump of cow dung is kept and it holds a five-petal pumpkin flower. This is taken as a symbol of fertility and also an offering made to the presiding deity.

Two days Celebration
In Sri Lanka Thai Pongal is a two day celebration. The first day is boiling of milk is done in a pot with rice, jaggery and sugarcane syrup. This sweet rice pudding prepared is offered to Sun God, and then served among the family members as a festive meal. On the second day, the oxen (Mattu) that assist the farmers in the rice fields are washed. They are then adorned with straw garlands that are hung around their necks and horns.

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