Tuesday, January 12, 2010
In Hindu calendar, Sun's northern ascension or the winter solstice occurs on January 14. In Tamilnadu (my homestate) it is the start of the month of Thai or Makara (Capricorn). It is celebrated with three days of harvest festival called the Pongal. Pongal is actually a dish made of rice and lentils and on this occasion the dish is the made from the new rice just harvested. Since it is a harvest festival, on the countryside it is a big event--the farmers paint and decorate their house, throw away old and unwanted things, buy new clothes, prepare feasts and have country fairs where they bring livestock all spruced up and painted. And everywhere, people celebrate it by making varieties of rice dishes--sweet rice, lemon rice, coconut rice, tamarind rice, yogurt rice--all accompanied by medley of vegetables. One of the hallmark of pongal celebration is the beautiful designs that young girls and women draw on the entrance way of their homes using white and colored rice flour .
It is the season for new beginnings and the month of Makara (Jan 14-Feb 13) is considered the most auspicious period for weddings. It is the busiest month for weddings and it is not uncommon to have to attend 2-3 weddings a week just in this month alone. My own daughter was married to Scott, on January 18 the first auspicious day of the month, four years ago in Chennai, Tamilandu. A very happy day it was!