Pongal is one of the most popular festivals in South India that is widely celebrated in Tamil Nadu. Like many other festivals in India, the festival has some interesting legends associated with it. There are two famous legends referring to Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva.
Let’s uncover the storyline and learn how both legends relate to Pongal.
Legend of Mount Govardhan
The legend is primarily associated with the first day of Pongal, which is Bhogi Pongal. The legend takes us to the time when the people of Brij used to worship Lord Indra every year. They worshipped Indra by considering him the Lord of clouds and rains. However, Indra became egoistic and proud by seeing people worshipping him for his grace. He started thinking of him as the Supreme and the owner of the Universe.
When Krishna was in his childhood, he saw people worshipping Indra. However, as being the almighty, he also knew the pride of Indra and that the worship had inflated his ego. To teach Indra a lesson, he asked all the people, including his father, to concentrate on their daily duties instead of evoking Indra for the rain.
Hence that year, no one worshipped Indra, which infuriated the Deva. In return, Indra generated non-stop clouds of rain in the Brij and lightning; all of this created floods in the village. Everyone started running here and there looking for a shelter; many animals became helpless and drowned with the flow of the water.
The situation was getting worse with every minute, and they all understood that it was the result of their act of not worshipping Indra. To protect the herd of animals and every living being, Krishna called his Superior powers, and he lifted the mountain Govardhan on his fingers.
Everyone was astonished about the miracle, and people understood that Krishna was not an ordinary child. Everyone found the shelter under Govardhan, and the rain continued for three days before Indra realized his mistake and got to know that Krishna is the divine and not a child.
Indra then appeared in front of Krishna and asked his forgiveness. He promised not to initiate such a cruel act on humanity. Krishna showered his forgiveness on Indra and also gave him the boon that he will be evoked every year, which happens to be the first day of Pongal. Due to the legend, the festival is also known as Indian.
Legend of Lord Shiva
Another legend that refers to Pongal is associated with Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva used to reside in Kailash with his bull Nandi and his army. Shiva once asked Nandi to go to Earth and deliver the message to people that they have an oil massage and bath daily and to eat food once a month.
Nandi being a staunch devotee of Shiva, decided to reach Earth immediately and fulfill the order of his Lord. However, in a hurry, Nandi delivered the wrong message; instead, he asked the people to have an oil massage and bath once a month and to eat food daily.
Such irresponsible behavior of Nandi enraged Shiva, and he explained to Nandi that how his wrong message would create a lack of food and grains on Earth. Nando got the punishment of serving people or farmers on Earth and helping them produce more food.
Since then, it is believed that bulls have served the farmers in their fields and helped them sow the seeds. This day is now known as Mattu Pongal, on which the cattle are worshipped. Farmers worship and pay respect to their bulls, cows, and buffaloes. All of these animals are helpful for a farmer and the human race since we receive grains with the efforts of a bull in the field, and our dairy comes from cows and buffaloes.
Thus farmers give their animals a clean bath. They decorate their horns with colorful paints and offer them a garland and a bell. In rural areas, several competitions happen in which farmers bring their animals to compete for their beauty.
On the fourth and final day, the kaanum pongal is celebrated, which looks similar to Raksha Bandhan and Bhai Dooj of North India. Women and young girls wish for the health and wealth of their families, and they all share the meal together.
In Maharashtra, married women wear new clothes and adorn themselves with ornaments. They organize a get-together in which they call all the married women and greet each other. These women give gifts containing utensils, Haldi-Kumkum, oil, cotton, and sesame seeds. Gifting such things is considered auspicious on Makar Sankranti, which is another name of Pongal. They believe that doing such gatherings ensure the family’s life and prosperity.
In Punjab, the same event is named Lohri where the farmers celebrate the day since it makes the harvesting season.