‘Pongal is celebrated as a sun festival’

Spiritual and cultural speaker Damal Ramakrishnan is a familiar face on television and other media channels. He is a renowned name when it comes to discourses on the significance of scriptures, epics and popular works in Tamil. He takes time to answer a few questions on the significance of Pongal
‘Pongal is celebrated as a sun festival’

Chennai

What is the significance of Pongal?  
The Tamil month of Thai begins when the sun begins its transit Northwards. It is also the time when harvest is completed in our country which is predominantly agriculture-based and people are known to worship the sun-god. Even in Yoga, there is a lot of emphasis given to suryanamaskar. Hence it is widely celebrated as a sun festival.
Why is there a tradition of boiling milk? 
In puranas it is said that in the north there was a severe deluge and the Govardhan mountain was impeding the struggle of the sun to fall on land. People reportedly were unable to venture out and cows could not be milked. Lord Krishna lifted the mountain, thereby letting in the sun’s rays. Grateful to be able to boil milk for the first time, people first offered it to sun and the practice continues.
Why are turmeric, ginger and sugarcane important? 
Some philosophies equate our body to a pot. Milk signifies purity of thought, and people vow to shed impure thoughts. Ginger denotes the need to care for your health while turmeric is a reminder that women and their health are important.

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