Pongal is celebrated on the same day as Bihu, Lohri, and Bhogi. But Pongal stretches over four days. The word Pongal literally means, "boiling over" and celebrates the bounteous crops in the fields. This festival is the biggest event of the year for the Tamils as well as for the people of Andhra Pradesh.
There are many festivals celebrated in south India but some of the known festivals are:
The first day, Bhogi-Pongal is devoted to Bhogi or Indran, the rain god. The day is linked with the famous mythological tale about Krishna lifting Gobardhan parbat on his little finger. The day begins with a til oil bath and in the evening there is a bonfire made of old cloths, files, mats and rugs.
The second day, Surya-Pongal, is dedicated to the Sun (Surya). On this day, pongal is boiled by women who offer it to the Sun. Mattu-Pongal, the third day, is the day dedicated to the worship and veneration of cattle. The horns of the cattle are decorated with turmeric and kumkum, small bells and flowers are hung around their neck and they are paraded in the streets. The festival that has been offered to the local deities is given to the cattle to eat.
The last day is known as Kanyapongal. Colored balls of the pongal are made and are offered to birds. A kind of bullfight, called the 'Jallikattu' is held in Madurai, Tiruchirapalli, and Tanjore in Tamil Nadu and several places in Andhra Pradesh. Bundles containing money are tied to the horns of ferocious bulls, and unarmed villagers try to wrest the bundles from them. Bullock Cart race and cockfight are also held. In Andhra Pradesh, every household displays its collection of dolls for three days. Community meals are held at night with freshly harvested ingredients.
Certain Hindu festivals are associated with the annual cycle of seasons. Pongal in the South is celebrated to mark the withdrawal of the southeast monsoons as well as the reaping of the harvest. Spread over three days, it is the biggest harvest festival. The word Pongal also denotes a sweet preparation made from rice to mark this festival.
The advent of Pongal is associated with spring-cleaning and burning of rubbish, symbolizing the destruction of evil. Kolam, decorative designs, or rangolis are traced on the floor. The newly harvested rice is cooked in homes as a joyful tribute to the bounty of nature. In Chennai, a rath yatra (chariot procession) is taken out from the Kandaswamy Temple.