January is absolutely the best month to be in Chennai. The weather is incredibly balmy, trees are leafy and green, the mosquitoes behave themselves and the entire city is colorful and in a celebratory mood for the Pongal festival.
It is the season for music festival, arts and crafts shows, textile exhibitions and weddings.
It is the celebration of nature's bounty, winter harvest and the beginning of Sun's northern ascension. In a country where still seventy-five percent of the population lives in villages, Pongal brings farmers and their livestock to the center stage in a grateful acknowledgment of their labor and toil in feeding the country's billion people. Pongal itself means an overflowing cooking pot and every Tamil kitchen at the appointed hour witnesses the milk and rice boiling over the cooking pot. Unsurprisingly, the three-day harvest festival is also celebrated with varieties of food preparation based on rice and vegetables.
Just before the start of the festival, roadside are filled with carts and stalls of fresh winter vegetables, sugarcane, raw turmeric and fruits.
Even the birds get to partake in the feast!
If cultures reveal their heart and soul in what they celebrate,then Pongal festival is Tamil culture at its best.