With the Kolam, Tamil peoples ritually adorn the day by decorating the ground. Visit to enjoy Tamil crafts across the world.
Every 16 January, Tamils celebrate a festivity of fertility and renewal called Mattu Pongal. It’s a time for all people of different castes and creeds to dine together. The festival occurs at a time of harvest when there is abundant rice. As part of the preparation for the New Year, houses are cleaned and new vessels are purchased.
During every day of this festival, a fresh design called “kolam” is painted on the ground. Rice dishes are prepared early in the day for crows.
Varuni Kanagasundaram shares her knowledge of kolam and the Pongal festival:
Kolam is a devotional visual dialogue created by women within the Tamil community as a ritual drawing on the ground at the entrance to homes, public spaces and laneways in South India, Sri Lanka and across the globe where diaspora has settled. Kolam designs give recognition to nature, the divine and all that sustains life, conveying a message to community to mark everyday and auspicious occasions.
The patterns from the soul divine
Gracing the homes of simple folk
Messages that cannot be spoke, Concepts formed without a word
From “The Kolam Poem” by Peter Hugo
Thiruppavai by Andal
Reciting the devotional poem of Thiruppavai by the eighth-century female saint Andal of South India is considered auspicious during the month of Margazhi. It is a month of devotion, food and creative expression. In the 27th verse of Thiruppavai, Andal describes the Pongal prepared by boiling rice with milk in a covered vessel with an abundance of ghee that it trickles down the elbow when eaten.
Festival of Pongal
The harvest festival of Thai Pongal is an important event in the calendar for Tamil communities in South India, Sri Lanka and across the globe where the diaspora has settled. The four-day festival celebrated from the 15th to the 18th of January follows the solar calendar giving recognition to the Sun god, nature and all that contribute to the abundance of harvest of crops to sustain life. It is a gesture of thanksgiving. The festival will be marked by rituals. Homes will be cleaned and Kolam designs drawn by women, on the ground at entrances.
On the second day of the festival called Suriya Pongal, harvested rice would be cooked in a new clay pot with milk and jaggery and allowed to boil over before being offered to the sun god. Mattu Pongal on the third day is dedicated to farm animals such as the cow and ox. They are bathed and adorned. Cooked Pongal is offered to the animal. The final day is marked by more offerings of food to the deity including sugar cane and exchange of food takes place between people to symbolize the generosity of harvest. Kolam designs capture recognition of all the aspects that mark the days of Pongal.
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