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Pongal and its Life Lessons

By Sowmiya T on January 2, 2024

Cultural diversity is something that makes Schoolhouse unique because we are an international community. With members from all over the world, there is no limit to learning something new about different cultures. Today, let’s learn more about our Southern Indian friends through Pongal (pronounced: poh-ng-al) - an annual harvest festival celebrated on either January 14 or January 15 (depending on the sun’s orbital path) in the state of Tamil Nadu. Specifically, we will discover the amazing values that each part of the celebrations instills in those who partake in it.

There are four days of Pongal: Bhogi Pongal, Suryan Pongal, Maatu Pongal and Kaanum Pongal. Let’s see what they signify below:

Bhogi Pongal: Taking the opportunity to start afresh in life by discarding old things and embracing new ones allows us to positively welcome change and create new memories.

Surya Pongal: Being grateful and strengthening human bonds are basic principles for living a happy and fulfilling life. More importantly, it is a recognition that without agriculture, it would be hard for us to survive. Preparing Pongal (traditional sweet rice dish) in an earthen pot in the outdoors reminds us to stay grounded and humble. Adorning the pot with a turmeric plant and placing sugarcanes nearby symbolize the importance of having a unique identity.

Maatu Pongal: Cows should be appreciated for providing us with food, fertilizer, transportation, and agricultural benefits. Decorating them with flower garlands and feeding them delicious food are traditions passed down through many generations. The traditional cattle race, Jallikattu, is a reminder of our bravery. Community meetings and temple visits exemplify how uniting as one people, despite our differences, is the pinnacle of the human experience.

Kaanum Pongal: Family reunions are more than just gatherings - they keep us connected to our roots and create opportunities to heal generational trauma. Visiting our neighbors and friends is how we continue to reach out to and support one another, especially in the face of life’s trials and tribulations.

Cultures are more than just ways to distinguish one person from another. They are the keys to understanding what brings us together, and this sense of camaraderie is crucial at Schoolhouse. If you’re eager to learn more, we have many opportunities to explore different cultures. If you would like to share about your own culture, consider hosting your own session - it will only enhance our wonderful world of learning!

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pongal_(festival) 

Thank you Sharon V for editing this article!

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