In southern India, today begins a four day harvest festival known as Pongal. It begins with music and ends with a picnic.
On the first day of the festival, people thoroughly clean their homes and get rid of old clothes to symbolize a new start, a new life.
On the second day family members create a kolam for the front of their home. It represents happiness and prosperity. Then new pots are used to boil rice in milk until it boils over. You can find a recipe for pongal here. The name of the dish is the same as the festival, and demonstrates its importance. During the day, people visit friends and neighbors and exchange food gifts.
On the third day, thanks is given to the animals that help with ploughing. The animals are bathed and then adorned with flowers, beads, and bells.
The festival ends on the fourth day with a family picnic.
The weather may be too cold to go outside for a picnic, depending on where you live, so improvise! Take these four days to visit with friends and family and gift them with baked goods. Plan an indoor picnic. And find images online of different kolams and let your imagination take over and create your own!
The new year is underway. Celebrate!