Significance Of Festivals

Festivals are a vital component of any civilization be it ancient or modern. The absence of festivals will bring about the disintegration of a community or civilization. Festivals enliven social life and unite the people by bringing them together in joyful celebration of significant events and in shared remembrance of a common past.

Tamils Festivals

The Tamils begin their year with the month of Thai. Thai piranthaal vazhi pirakkum” an ancient Tamil saying, (dating back to the ‘Sangam’ period), clearly confirms that the Tamils began their year with the month of Thai (January 14).

Pongal is much sung and honoured festival in the Tamil Literature. Tamils all over the world sinking all differences of caste, creed, religion, party affiliations and statehood come together to celebrate this festival.

Common Festival

Since the advent of Agriculture Pongal Festival has been spread over four days from the last day of the Tamil month, Marghazhi to the first three days of the Tamil month of Thai. The last day in the Tamil month of Marghazhi is celebrated as Bhogi; the first day in the Tamil month of Thai is Tamil New Year and Grand Pongal, the second day, Pongal for all the farm animals, Maattu Pongal, the third day, Pongal for offsprings or for greeting one another, Kaanum Pongal.  In Tamil Nadu it is celebrated as Bhohi Day, (last day of Marghazhi), Pongal, Tamil New Year Day, (Thai-1), Thiruvalluvar Day, (Thai-2), Farmers’ Day, (Thai-3).

Cleanliness, Husbandry, Industry, Gratitude, Acknowledgement of Nature and Thanks Giving mark these days with grace and charm, common to all religions, linguistic groups and different nationalities. 

Thiruvalluvar Year

On this day of the Grand Pongal (Thai-1), the Tamil Thiruvalluvar Year starts and the Thiruvalluvar Era dates back to B.C. 31 and hence Thiruvalluvar Year is reckoned with the English Year thus; 2005 + 31 = 2036.

Pongal is widely celebrated across the whole of India in various names. It is also celebrated in 77 countries across the globe. Dr. Ohno, Professor of Japanese Language said in the sixth International Conference of Tamil Studies held in November 1987 in Malaysia, that the harvest festival in Japan is celebrated on the 15th of January of every year in the name of ‘Kosho Katsu’.

Pongal is not only the festival of the Tamils or the festival of the South Indians but a national festival, nay a world festival that echoes the immortal words of the Tamil Epic ‘Puranaanooru’ “Every country is my country, Every MAN is my kinsman”. Thus the Pongal Festival assumes National and perhaps International importance. The former Chief Minister of Kerala, Mr. C. Achutha Menon has hailed it, (Pongal Festival) as a “National Festival”.

Some 500 Tamil scholars gathered in a conference under the Chairmanship of Tamil Kadal, Maraimalai Adigal in Chennai, Pachchayappa College, in the year 1921 to carefully deliberate, discuss and consider the issues clouding the Tamil New Year.  After very detailed discussion and careful consideration it was unanimously decided that:

  1. The Tamil Year should be followed in the Name of Saint Thiruvalluvar
  2. That year only should be adopted as Tamil Year
  3. The Era of Saint Thiruvalluvar was B.C.31

The main signatories of the decisions taken in the conference were as follows:

  1. Tamil Kadal, Maraimalai Adigal
  2. Tamil Thendral, Thiru. Vi. Ka.
  3. Tamil Kavalar, K. Subramaniam Pillai
  4. Saiva Periyar, Sachchidhanandham Pillai
  5. Navalar, N.M. Venkatasami Nattar
  6. Navalar, Somasundara Bharathiyar
  7. Muththamil Kavalar, K.A.P. Viswanatham

The Pongal Celebrations is concisely arranged in the order hereunder:

Marghazhi last day,
13th January
Bhogi Day
Thai first day,
14th January
Pongal / Tamil New Year
Thai second day,
15th January
Thiruvalluvar Day
Thai third day,
16th January
Farmers’ Day
Thai forth day,
17th January
Iyal Tamil Day
Thai fifth day,
18th January
Isai Tamil Day
Thai sixth day,
19th January
Nataka Tamil Day

Let us celebrate Pongal as above.
Let us sing the greatness of our Heritage.

Let us live with honour, pride and glory.