The bountiful harvest has been celebrated with ceremonies of giving thanks. So cultures all over the world including Japanese, Indians, Romans, Chinese and Korean have special day when all give thanks for a bountiful harvest. The names, rituals and the tradition of these festival may differ in their forms and presentations. For everyone, a good harvesting season brings with them joy, happiness and contentment.
Similarly, Pongal in South India is celebrated to mark the withdrawal of the southeast monsoons as well as the reaping of the harvest. It is the biggest harvest festival celebrated over three days in the mid january each year. There is a special puja that is performed on this day and that to in a proper manner. Below is proper way to perform Pongal Puja :
All pujas are performed after sunrise on the first day of Thai month. Surya Puja is performed outside the house early morning when the sunrises on the Pongal day. Some people invite priests to perform Surya Narayana Puja on the day. Then a place chosen to perform the puja. That place is then thoroughly cleaned and a Surya Kolam is drawn (a drawing on the floor filled with colorful powders or flowers) – a Kolam with the face of Lord Surya. People also draw sugarcane, peacock, boiling pongal pot etc in or around the Surya Kolam.
The pongal and other dishes specially prepared for the day are offered to Lord Surya (Sun God). For many people, cooking of pongal itself is an offering and they perform it outside with three sugarcane sticks erected like an uncovered tent which is known as a tripod of sugarcane. The pongal pot is tied with turmeric plant. Apart from the pongal and other dishes, some people also offer fruits, vegetables, produce from recent harvest, sugarcane, coconut, betel leaves, betel nut and flowers. All the fruits, vegetables, flowers and pongal dish are kept on the Surya kolam and a lamp is lit and prayers are offered to Surya.
Aditya Hridayam or Surya Ashtotaram or Gayatri mantra is recited. Or you can simply mediate and say some simple prayers. There after some water and flowers are sprinkled on the kolam and pongal dish. You can also sprinkle some uncooked rice mixed with turmeric (akshata). After final prayers, the pongal, other dishes and fruits are distributed among the people near by. In some regions, there is a ritual to look at the Sun’s reflection in a vessel filled with water. Some communities add turmeric and kumkum to the water and look at this reflection. Another unique ritual is to look at sun through the gaps of fingers.
After sunset special prayers are offered to Lord Surya. This includes chanting of any shloka dedicated to the Sun God like Om Suryay Namah:||.
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