Pongal is an ancient celebration for the people of Tamil Nadu that is celebrated for four continuous days. Mattu Pongal is the 3rd day of the Pongal celebrations and is observed on the second day of the Thai month in the Tamil calendar. In the
Gregorian calendar it is usually celebrated on either 15th or 16th January. The word ‘mattu’ in Tamil signifies ‘the bull’ and thus the day of Mattu Pongal is dedicated as celebrations of the cattle, especially the bulls as they an important role in
helping the farmers to grow crops. Mattu Pongal is the day when people forget their caste, creed or other discriminations and come together to celebrate the new harvest and welcome the new season. Mattu Pongal is celebrated with full fervour and
gaiety not only in the state of Tamil Nadu but also in some Southern Indian states like Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
During Pongal people clean their house and decorate it with attractive kolams in the front yard. On the first day they draw picture of rice, on second day Sun God and on the day of Mattu Pongal they draw images depicting bull or other
On Mattu Pongal, people give a bath to their cattle and their horns are painted and decorated with radiating metal caps. Flower garlands, tinkling bells and multi-colored beads are tied in their necks. The cattle owners sprinkle saffron water
with mango leaves on the cows and offer prayers to protect them from all evils. They worship Lord Krishna and Lord Indra for the growth and prosperity of their cattle population. People worship the cows by touching their forehead and feet. This is
followed by an ‘aarti’.
On the day of Mattu Pongal a special dish known as ‘Sakkar Pongal’ is prepared from moong dal, cooked rice, dry fruits and jaggery. It is first offered to the cows and later distributed among all as ‘cattle prasad’.
Tamils worship Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati and Lord Ganesha during the Pongal celebrations. Several kinds of rice offerings are made to their deities and later offered to the cattle.
‘Manji Virattu’ or ‘Jallikattu’ that is important village sport also forms an integral part of Mattu Pongal celebrations. This activity is observed with full expectations and enthusiasm in the villages of Tamil Nadu. In Jallikattu, young men in
the village chase fierce bulls to grab the money tied in their horns. It is observed during the evening of Mattu Pongal day whereas in few villages it is held on Kaanum Pongal, a day following Mattu Pongal.
Mattu Pongal is dedicated to the cattle. The word ‘mattu’ means ‘bull’ and ‘pongal’ signifies ‘prosperity’. The festival marks the beginning of the harvest of the paddy (rice) fields. According to the Hindu legends, the observance of Mattu Pongal
is linked with the story of Lord Shiva and Nandi, His bull. This day is also very renowned for the bull taming sport called as ‘Jallikattu’ or ‘Manji Virattu’. The celebration of Mattu Pongal is a form of thanksgiving to the livestock, particularly
the cows and bulls. In India, cows and bulls hold a special place as cows offer nourishment in the form of milk and the bulls help the farmers in ploughing the land for cultivation.