Festivals are generally a great celebration either at home or at religious establishments in Tamil Nadu. The festival becomes a cause for Religious, Social and Family Gathering at different places on various occasion to worship, enjoy and have fun. We shall hereunder follow some of the important festivals of the State.
The Pongal Holidays of the state start with Bhogi either on the 13th or 14th [ based on Tamil Calendar] of January of every year and the next day is the start of the Tamil month THAI [Jan-Feb], 2nd day is celebrated as PONGAL, 3rd Day as Mattu Pongal and the 4th Day is popularly called by common man as Kaanum Pongal and government celebrates it as Thiruvalluvar Day. Festivals, though marked in individual name it is totally to be called as UZHAVAR THIRUNAL or the FARMERS FESTIVAL.
BHOGI : This festival basically symbolizes THE THEORY IS TO GET RID OF THE EVIL OR OLD AND WELCOME THE GOOD OR NEW . The people clean their houses, paint them new and get rid of the old and junk by burning them. By burning the old, it is believed that evil or old things destroyed to pave way for the transformation of new things in our life. Awareness is being created by the Government and the Pollution Control Society to celebrate this festival, without deviating from the traditional practices, but to ensure pollution free environment.
PONGAL : It is also called as the Makara Sankranthi and auspicious first day of the month THAI [makaram] and it is being celebrated as a thanks giving day dedicated to SUN GOD. It is because of its astronomical significance: that it marks the beginning of Uttarayana, the Sun's movement northward for a period of next six month and enters into zodiac sign of Makaram. Pongal is generally celebrated as the Uzhavar Thirunal or the Farmers Festival. All the people, specially in Villages, Cook Pongal with new and colorfully painted Earthern Pots , with New Rice from the harvest and Milk. The entire family joins in welcoming the day and the festival to mark a new beginning. Being the season for the ripened Sugar cane it finds a prominent place in the festival throughout, when people especially children can be seen crushing bits of sugarcane in their mouth and relishing the Juice.
MATTU PONGAL : This is a festival that is being celebrated to show the people’s gratitude towards the Bulls who help the farmers to plough their lands and also the cows and buffalos for providing milk through out the year. The cattle are thoroughly cleaned, their horns are painted with colours, adorn them with new and colourful clothes and take them around with the Jingling bells around their neck. Normally cattle trucks were and even now used in some villages to transport men and materials.
A festival event called Jalli Kathu or Manju Virattu is held on this day in Southern Districts popularly called as Alanganallur Jallikattu, where thoroughly bred fighter bulls are reared and brought to the arena for fight of control between Men and the Bull. It is an event of prestige for the Owner of the bulls. Community Dining is very popular in which the food is made of the freshly harvested grain. This day is named and celebrated in a fitting manner through out Tamil Nadu.
KAANUM PONGAL / TIRUVALLUVAR DAY: The Government celebrates this day as Tiruvalluvar Day in honour of the Tamil Poet who had created TIRUKKURAL, popular and respected 1330 couplets. It is also called as Pothu Marai or General Code of Conduct. It has been translated into many foreign languages too.
It is Kaanum Pongal for common man. They start off early in the morning on an outing spree to visit Places and People. It is a mass GET TOGETHER where lakhs of people are out on the streets, malls, parks, restaurants, religious establishment, amusement parks and other places of interest to spend time with Friends, Kith and Kin.
Unjal Festival - Madurai :
It falls in the month of Aani [Jun-Jul] and culminates on the Full moon day of the month. Unjal in Tamil means a Swing with a solid plank of wood connected to the Ceiling by Chains and it is made to swing by gentle push forward and backward. Both Lord Sundereswara and Goddess Meenakshi will be seated on the Swing. Songs will be sung in praise of them along with Nadaswaram playing those songs while the swing is in motion. It is celebrated in the 100 pillared hall of the temple.