Bhogi is the first day of the four-day Pongal festival. According to the Gregorian calendar it is normally celebrated on 13 January but sometimes it is celebrated on 14 January.
The festival is celebrated in the Southern States of India as the first day of the harvest festival of Pongal. It is the day of discarding everything that is old and thus bringing in new fortune and prosperity in their lives.
In the Tamil Calendar, this corresponds to the last day of the month of Maargazhi. Bhogi is a festival celebrated widely in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Telangana.
Bhogi Festival – Spiritual significance
The festival of Bhogi is the first day of Pongal and is celebrated in honor of Lord Indra, “the God of Clouds and Rains”. Lord Indra is worshiped for the abundance of harvest, thereby bringing plenty and prosperity to the land.
Thus, Bhogi day is also known as Indran. On Bhogi all people clean out their homes from top to bottom, and collect all unwanted goods. This day is meant for domestic activities and of being together with the family members.
Homes are cleaned and decorated with “Kolam” of “Rangoli” – floor designs drawn in the white paste of newly harvested rice with outlines of red mud. Often pumpkin flowers are set into cow-dung balls and placed among the patterns on Bhogi day.
Fresh harvest of rice, turmeric and sugarcane is brought in from the field as preparation for the following day.
Bhogi festival – the bonfire
Another ritual observed on Bhogi is Bhogi Mantalu, when useless household articles are thrown into a fire made of wood and cow-dung cakes.
Girls dance around the bonfire, singing songs in praise of the gods, the spring and the harvest. The significance of the bonfire, in which is burnt the agricultural wastes and firewood is to keep warm during the last lap of winter.
Other names of Bhogi
- Bhogi Pandigai
- Lohri in Punjab and other parts of North India
- Maghi Bihu or Bhogali Bihu in Assam
Maatu Pongal is celebrated the day after Pongal . Cattle is our sources of wealth for providing dairy products, fertilizer and labor for plowing and transportation. On Maatu Pongal, cattle are recognized and afforded affectionately. Features of the day include games such as the Jallikkattu and taming bull.
On this day celebrants bathe and decorate their cattle with garlands. Cows are decorated with turmeric water and oil. Farmers apply Kumkum to their foreheads, paint their horns, and feed them a mixture of venn pongal (Khara pongal), jaggery, honey, banana and other fruits.
In the evening people pray to Lord Ganesha. One ritual is to light a torch of coconut leaves and carry it around cattle three times and then run to the border of the village to drop it. This is believed to remove the evil influences caused by the jealousy of other people over the cattle.