Astonishing facts about the bull taming tradition during Pongal
Its is an age old tradition in Tamil Nadu, India and stands to be a vital part of the Pongal Harvest Festival. So, what’s it all about?
This shows the first day of the Pongal festival. It is called the Bhogi Pongal. It is celebrated during Makar Sankranti
Here a bonfire is lit with cow dung cake and wood and all old items and clothes are sacrificed in this fire. All agricultural and household waste like old mats and broom sticks are thrown into the fire.
Houses are cleaned and decorated with 'kolams' made of rice flour paste and red mud. Cow dung cakes and pumpkin flowers are also used for decoration. New Crockery is bought for the special and sweet rice is prepared and offered to the Gods.
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.
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’.
‘Manji Virattu’ or ‘Jallikattu’ that is important village sport also forms an integral part of Mattu Pongal celebrations.
In Jallikattu, young men in the village chase fierce bulls to grab the money tied in their horns.
Since this is a very dangerous sport, PETA had worked a lot to stop this practice. It hurt a lot of men and also injured the cattle involved,
But the people strongly believe it is a part of an age old tradition. Hence they protested and pleaded that such a decision of banning Jallikattu should not be undertaken.
The tradition involves a rough game whereby the people go forward to tame the bull. But due to panic, often the bull attacks, hurts and even kills the people who are a part of this tradition. Bad handling can also cause death to the bull. Still, because this is a part of a religion, jallikattu is still practiced in full vigour.
Jallikattu taming the bull
The cows and oxen are given a bath, decorated with ornaments and flowers and are offered the 'pongal' that was cooked for worship. Bull fights are organized on this day as part of the festive spirit of Pongal.
The most important event observed on Kaanum Pongal is visiting the banks of River Kaveri. It is celebrated with friends and families just like ‘Bhai Dhuj’ and ‘Raksha Bandhan’. A scrumptious meal is prepared on this day. People pack lunches and then enjoy it with their families on the bank of Kaveri River. In some places, special prayers and pujas are offered to Mother Kaveri.
This stands to be one of the most popular dishes that is prepared in households during Pongal.
Who can forget this sweet pongal or the jaggery based sakkaria pongal. It is taasty, healthy and holds a prime position while giving offerings to the Gods.