Pongal O’ Pongal: More than a Harvest Festival


Sadhguru looks at the significance of Pongal, celebrated in the month of Thai in the Tamil Calendar.

Sadhguru: Celebrations at the time of the winter solstice have been universal in almost every culture on the planet. It is seen as the rising of the new sun. In ancient Rome, this was celebrated as Saturnalia, which means it was about Saturn, the god of agriculture and food. In southern India, even today, the celebration of Makar Sankranti is one of the most important festivals in a year for the agricultural communities. In Rome, Saturnalia was a holiday – people gave gifts; no war could be declared on this day, and masters and slaves swapped their positions. In India, even today, men and women swap their positions at that time – men will be singing, women will be drawing complex geometric patterns in the form of Rangoli.

In lands like Central Asia and China, such celebrations were also prevalent. These traditions were destroyed in Europe and other parts of the world with the advent of Christianity. The ancient Egyptians always saw that during this month, the line between the physical and the spiritual is thin, or the two are brought close together.

Pongal or Makar Sankranti

Between the 14th and 17th of January are the festivals of Makar Sankranti or Pongal, as it is called in Tamil Nadu. There are different aspects to this festival, which falls in the month of Thai in the Tamil Calendar. There is Bhogi, during which houses are cleaned, decorated, and in a way re-consecrated for the new year, using materials like mango leaves and the first cut of paddy to enhance the vibrance in the house. All the unnecessary things in one’s home are disposed of.


In this season, you should get rid of all the unnecessary things in your life and begin life afresh. You should make this cleanup an annual event. Even if some cleaning up is done on a daily basis, a few things pile up here and there without you being conscious about it. This piling up is not only of material things in our homes. Also in our minds, in our emotions, in our bodies, and in our consciousness, things pile up. This is the time to clean that up and start afresh in the coming spring, as spring is the best time to start life in every way.

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