In the whole world, Pongal is the only festival which is not limited to any particular religion or belief.
First and foremost, this festival designed by Tamil scholars many thousand years ago is not just a festival but a science of celebration and successful living. To name it in a single word, it is called ‘Pongal’ or ‘Thai Pongal’. People in various regions call this by different names. In the neighbouring states, this day is celebrated as ‘Makar Sankranti’. The astronomical significance of this day is that the sun enters the Capricorn or ‘Makaram’; it is called ‘Makara Sankranti’, but Tamilians call it as ‘Thai Thirunaal’. ‘Thai’ means a possibility to succeed and grow or the possibility to make a great future a reality. For that reason, people say “Thai Piranthal vazhi pirakkum”.
The science behind this celebration is amazing. Every human is created with two aspects. No matter how much ever positive energy you receive, it is utilised and absorbed as positive energy only when you eliminate or eradicate the negativity. This is the reason the day before Pongal is celebrated as Bhogi, the last day of the month of Margazhi. Bhogi (a nomenclature derived from the Tamil word ‘Pokki’) is the removal of negativity. As you prepare for the next year, this culture has designed a system wherein you eliminate negativity. The concept is very simple. If a container is contaminated, no matter how much ever pure water is poured into it, it will also get contaminated. So it’s clearing out the negativity, not only in the household articles but also from the heart, the vengeance we hold in a relationship, the fear about the future, the pain we carry from the past, etc. Everything is removed with the fire ritual carried out early in the morning, before dawn. It symbolises that no matter how big your problem is, once it is in to the fire, it becomes ash. The same with the mind: one receives the psychological strength to eliminate all the pains in the past and the future.
The three aspects of Pongal are: THAI PONGAL
To keep it short, ‘Pongal’ is not the name of a dish! Pongal means ever-flowing (not overflowing); that is the reason it’s also known as “Pongum Mangala Thirunaal”. The pot in which we store the rice and enjoy the boiling is called ‘Sarvodaya Panai’. We always appreciate people with referential reverence, like we say God is like the lotus, etc. In a similar way, we see this as a referential reverence of how our future is going to be overflowing and for that reason that very pot is also known as ‘Sarvodaya Panai’; ‘sarvodaya’ means richest, which is going to give you everything. After elimination of all negativities, the very second day is designed to experience that ever-flowing positivity in our life. And above all, the very need of human existence is food, and so on that day, we also show all our gratitude and celebrate with nature, sun, seed & farmer. The ‘Surya Sidhantha’ insists on this point that humans can survive without ‘gnana’ (knowledge) but cannot survive without food. That’s the reason ‘Surya Sidhantha’ is the celebration of the first day of Pongal with great reverence from many thousand years ago.
The second day is celebrated with all kith and kin, and the neighbourhood irrespective of their religion, caste, creed, etc. It is designed in a way to give the highest respect to the cattle we have- not just the cow, but every cattle we owe-and treat them as our family members, in fact, with equal importance as our loved ones and family members. No other culture has got this beautiful structure of living. These are things we need to rejoice and feel proud of being part of it, and share it with our next generation. We must take pride of this great Indian culture and take this as one of the highest responsibilities of the present generation to pass it on to the next generation.
The last day, Kaanum Pongal is a beautiful way of creating the future psychologically and scientifically which has been a proven factor in the present day. I would like to refer a few medical terms here. There is something called cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular disease. Medical science has arrived to a conclusion (after meticulous research) that the only treatment and prevention for both these diseases is happiness and security about the future. Insecurity about the future gets eradicated on this beautiful day of Kaanum Pongal. As a family, together we share a common vision for the future, giving confidence to each other, saying that we are here to support them in their vision and growth and that together we can achieve anything and everything we want. This day insists that a life without any focus will be a mess; this is something the youngsters have to learn from our culture. We create a vision and promise ourselves within the family that we are going to focus on our vision and the rest is magical! We begin our year hoping that we are going to celebrate success and achieve whatever we want in life. That is the reason we decorate our homes, rejoice with new costumes-not just for that one day or during the festival but promising ourselves that this is the way of life that we are going to live in the future. This is the absolute science behind Pongal.
I want to sum up the ultimate science behind Pongal in a very simple way. It is all about eliminating the negativity and giving space to new positivity which is the fundamental need for sustaining peace and prosperity. This is one festival which the entire humanity has to rejoice because this is not celebrated by any one particular religion alone. One can be a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or whosoever on planet Earth in human form; this festival is the fundamental preparation to enjoy their future with full of abundance and well-being and above all, unstoppable peace and happiness with the family.
Wishing you and your entire family a very happy Pongal and unstoppable peace, success & happiness for you and your entire generation from now and forever.
—Atmayogi Shri Aasaanji Aham Brahmasmi !
Atmayogi Shri Aasaanji is a non-religious, contemporary Spiritual Master and the founder of the Atmayoga Foundation (Institute for Inner-Science and Self-Transformation) www.atmayoga.in