A brief historical study of the origin and development of the Tamil Thai Pongal Vilaa

Thread started by virarajendra on 14th January 2012 08:08 PM



Author - Virarajendra

A Brief Historical Study of the Origin and Development of the Tamil Thai Pongal Vilaa

The origin of the Tamil Thai Pongal Vilaa (Thamilar Peru Vilaa)

From the ancient times the life of the Tamil people of Tamil Nadu fell within five geographical regions of their country namely the Kurinji Nilam, Mullai Nilam, Marutha Nilam, Neithal Nilam and Paalai Nilam.

(1) Kurunji Nilam was a region with hills and land associated with hills
God Murugan was considered as the deity of this region.

(2) Mullai Nilam was a region with forests and land associated with forests
God Thirumaal was considered as the deity of this region.

(3) Marutha Nilam was a region with paddy fields and land associated with paddy fields
God Indiran was considered as the deity of this region.

(4) Neithal Nilam was a region with seafronts and land associated with seafronts
God Varunan was considered as the deity of this region.

(5) Paalai Nilam was a region with no water and vegetation
Normally abandoned by people.

The people of Marutha Nilam were Farmers working in paddy fields who cultivated and provided rice to all which was the staple food not only to the very people of Marutha Nilam the Farmers, but also to the people living in the other three geographical regions of Tamil Nadu. This created a great demand for rice and necessiating much cultivation and harvesting of paddy which found ready market among the people of Tamil Nadu.

As a result the coffers of the Farmers filled in, and the Farmer community became very wealthy and gradually maintained a higher standard of living compared with the people of the other regions of Tamil Nadu. This gave a new outlook to the Farmers in the Tamil society who were known as "Vellaaler", and in view of their better standards of living were considered as “high caste” people by the people of the other regions.

The paddy produced needed proper marketing to reap the benefits of production, and from the Vellaaler (farmers) community a new community branched off known as the Vanikar (traders). The Vanikars started with their sales activities in paddy, but subsequently they spread their sales also in the other commodities of their region and the other regions. These two communities by way of their mode of earning became much wealthy and maintained a better standard of living and earned much respect among the people of all societies.

These two communities celebrated a festival as thanksgiving to the God Indiran who graced them with all wealth and prosperity in life, being blessed with rich harvests and sales of their paddy to all communities of the Tamil Nadu. This festival was celebrated with "Pongal ceremony" in which the first measure of harvested new Rice was boiled with Milk and Vellam (Sakkarai) and was offered to God Indiran with other food offerings followed by Poosai valipadukal.

The early development as a festival to God Indiran

In the early days itself this festival in the name of God Indiran (the God of Rains) of the region the Marutha Nilam, gradually came to be celebrated by not only the Vellaler and Vanikar communities but also by all other communities within Tamil Nadu. In the Chola country of the second century A.D. it ended up as a big festival celebrated on the Chiththirai Natchaththiram day of the month of Chiththirai as "Indira Vilaa" especially in the region of Kaviripoompattinam of Chola Nadu patronised by the ruling Chola kings.

Silappathikarem the Tamil Epic of the second century A.D describes the festival offering to God Indra as follows:

".....Thevar Komaan (God Indran) ervalit poantha Kavat poothatthu kadaikelu peedikai, pulukkalum noalayum, vilukkudai madaiyum, povum, pukaiyum, Pongalum sorinthu Thunangaiyar kuravai anangelunthu aadi......"

Silappathikaram - by Ilango Adikal, Indira Vilaa vureduththa kaathai


However during the Silappathikarem and Manimekalai period a great sea erosion (tsunami) swept the Chola capital city the Kaviripoompattinam and this city submerged under the sea. This put an end to the great festival celebrated by the Vellalas and Vanikars of Chola Nadu around A.D.175. However the thankgiving celebration in the name of God Indiran continued to be celebrated by the Vellaalers and Vanikars in the other regions of Tamil Nadu, but not in the same grandway as the "Indira Villaa" Festival celebrated in then Chola Nadu.

Note: The earlier connection of Pongal Vilaa with the worship of God Indra is further confirmed by the present Boghi Pandikai celebrated the day prior to Thai Pongal, as "Bogi" was another Tamil Name for God Indiran, which is confirmed by the earliest among the ancient 'Tamil Nihandu Noolkal' (Tamil Dictionary) namelythe 'Chudaamani Nihandu' of the period around B.C.150.

King "Karikaat Cholan" of then Chola Nadu, in Tamil Nadu of first century Tamil Nadu having brought the southern territory of the present Andhra pradesh under his rule of then India, the "Indra Vilaa" also known as "Boghi Pandikai" in Tamil took grounds in the Andhra country and continued to be celebrated in Andhra Pradesh as "Boghi Mantaalu" while same have been forgotton in Tamil Nadu and was replaced with "Thai Pongal festivities" in in Tamil Nadu after the fall of Kalabhra occupation of Tamil Nadu . In the sixteenth century A.D. with certain regions of Tamil Nadu comming under the rule of Naayakkars from Andhra Pradesh, the earlier Boghi Pandikai was re-introduced back into Tamil Nadu and celebrated along with the Tamil Thai Pongal Vilaa of Tamil Nadu mostly by the Telugu people but somewhat in the same way as the Thai Pongal but with reverence to Indiran also known as Bogi.

The subsequent development as a festival to God Suuriyan

In the year A.D.467 the Tamil Nadu was invaded by the Kalabhra king Atchutha Vikranthakan from Nandi Hills region of south Karnataka, and held sway over major part of then Tamil Nadu including Chola, Paandiya and Chera kings of the Tamil Nadu who actively spread their religion the Jainism over the other religions of then Tamil Nadu. With the Tamil Nadu coming under Kalabhra rule and with the religious calamities in Tamil Nadu, the earlier religious 'traditions' of Vellaalers and Vanikars were gradually went out of practice and been forgotton.

However with the death of Atchutha Vickranthakan in the year A.D.506, the Kalabhra rule in Tamil Nadu began to disintegrate with the Chola Nadu and Paandiya Nadu regaining their freedoms from their rule. This enabled the age old Tamil religious festivities and customs be revived. But the thanksgiving ceremony of the Vellaaler and Vanikars to God Indran took a new turn with it being a ceremony dedicated to the "Sun God" (Sooriyan).

It gradually took this new form as the ceremony to Sun God who helped them in their successful harvest, instead of God Indiran who helped them with rain to reap good harvest, and celebrated on the first day of the Tamil month Thai being the 'first new month following after their paddy harvest' in the Tamil month of Markali. However the association of Tamil Thai Pongal Vilaa with the worship of God Indiran (also known as Bogi) still continued in a minor way as "Bogi Pandikai" on the day before Tamil Thai Pongal to the "Sun God", while the significance to the worship and thanksgiving dedicated to "Sun God" became very prominent in practice in Tamil Nadu.

The worship of Sun God in Tamil Nadu had been there even during the period of composition of the great 'Kerala' Tamil Epic the Silappathikaram of Kerala (the former 'Chera Nadu') of second century A.D. - which was one of the then three Muth Thamil Nadu. The poet Ilango Adikal before he started to compose this Silappathikarem makes his salutations to the Sun God as “Gnayiru pottruthum Gnayiru pottruthum (ஞாயிறு போற்றுதும் ஞாயிறு போற்றுதும்)" in his great Tamil epic poem.

The ceremony thanking the Sun God on the successful harvest of paddy continued for long in Tamil Nadu for long. Even during the medieval Chola period during the rule of Rajendra Chola - 1 (A.D.1011-1044) - this ceremony has been celebrated as an 'annual festival of offering the first harvest (crop) of Paddy to God'. This festival was called as the "Puthiyeedu Vilaa", which is the present Thai Pongal Vilaa. It is also evident from Inscriptions that the Tamil Thai Pongal Vilaa was also celebrated at the Thiruvottriyur temple in Tamil Nadu

".....In the 29th year of Emperor Rajendra Chola - 1 a gift of money was deposited on interest in (the form of) paddy with the inhabitants of Iganaiyur for providing offering every year for "Puthiyeedu Vilaa" (the festival of offering of first crop) made (to Thiruvottriyur temple) by Nakkan Kothai alias Kanchipuranangai......"

On a pillar at the central shrine of Aathipurisvara Shrine of Thiruvottriyur temple in north Tamil Nadu.
Annual Report on South Indian Epigraphy - 1912, Inscription No 139


Further the twelve Sankranthi days were celebrated in an auspicious manner at Rajarajaeswarem temple of Thanjavur during the period of rule of Emperor Rajaraja Chola - 1 (A.D.985-1014) 'Sankranthi' astrologically means the day of 'sacred change' (Veedu Maattram) of Sun from one Veedu (Raasi) to the next Veedu, precisely it is the day of the beginning of each Tamil month. In this context,the Makara Sankranthi being the movement of the Sun from Dhanu Veedu to Makara Veedu in mid January being the dawn of the Tamil Month Thai - the day of the traditional Tamilian festival the 'Thai Pongal' it is evident this Festival too was celebrated in the great Rajarajeswarem temple of Thanjavur of Tamil Nadu during the period of medieval Cholas.

".....camphor in excess of the daily rate, which is used for burning instead of the wick, on each of the thirty-four days, (namely) at the twelve festivals of Tiru-Sadaiyam, on the single day of (the nakshatra) Karttigai in (the month of) Karttigai, at the "twelve Sankranthis'', and on the nine days of the great (annual) Sacred Festival (utsavam of the temple Rajarajeswaram)......."

In the inner Gopura, on the right of the entrance to the Rajarajaeswarem Temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
South Indian Inscriptions - Vol 2, Part 2, Inscription No: 26


During the period of the Emperor Kulothunga Chola - 1 (A.D.1070-1120) the Thai Pongal Festival was continued to be celebrsted. An individual named Thiruvenkadavan made a donation of a land of 1000 kulis (a measure of land) to the Vira Raghava temple at Thiruvallur in north Tamil Nadu from the income of which to celebrate the "Makara" Sankranthi festival annually at this temple.

"......In the fifth year of rule of Kulotunga Chola, one Thiru Venkadavan gave to the temple of Vira Ragava one thousand Kulis of land in Thalakauracheri for Makara Sankramana (Makara Sankranthi) festival....."

Inscription on a stone south of the Vimanam of Vira Raghava temple at Thiruvallur, Tamil Nadu
Inscriptions of Southern Districts - page 111, Inscription No: 1


Important Note

Some Scholars have put-forth some legends connecting the origin of "Tamil Thai Pongal Festival" of Tamil Nadu with some North Indian Legends. It should be noted that the "Thai Pongal Celebration" is essentially a "Tamilian Festival" that originated from Tamil Nadu - being the "Ulavar Thirunaal" and a "Thamilar Peru Vilaa" - of the Tamil Society both of the Urban and Village sectors of Tamil Nadu.

It should be well remembered that the earlier Vellaaler and Vanikar society of then Tamil Nadu are part of the present day high-class Urben Society in the cities of Tamil Nadu. Hence the "Tamil Thai Pongal Festival" is simply not the present day Farmer's festival of villages, but also the great festival of the Urban Society of the cities - "and is essentially the festival of 'thanksgiving to' and 'worship of' - 'Sun God' for the prosperity of all Tamilians and others of Tamil Nadu".

The Tamil Thai Pongal Festival of Tamil Nadu have no connection whatsoever with the legends of North India. Most of these legends connecting them with "Tamil Thai Pongal Vilaa" came forth during the rule of the "Nayakkar kings from Andhra" and "Maraatiya kings from Maharashtra" over certain regions of Tamil Nadu.

Thai Pongal - Mangala Isai

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XPL...layer_embedded

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzKF...yer_detailpage Thai Pongal Paadal

The present Customs and Practices in the celebration of Tamil Thai Pongal Festivities

Bogi Pandikai

The Boghi Pandikai in Tamil Nadu is celebrated as "Boghi Mantalu" as celebrated in the Andhra Pradesh on the last day of the Tamil Month of Maarkali - somewhat in the same way as the "Thai Pongal" of Tamil Nadu with the boiling of the first rice from the harvest and dedicated to God Indiran (Boghi) by the "Telugu people" living in Tamil Nadu, who came from or whose forefathers came from Andhra country in to Tamil Nadu.

However the "Tamil people of Tamil Nadu" took-up this day for the clearing and disposal of unwanted old household items and replaing them new, and preparing their house with the cleaning and colour-washing of its walls, doors and windows, and washing their floors with water in preparation for the "Tamil Thai Pongal" dawing on the next day being the first day of the Tamil Month of Thai. (Note:The disposal of old unwanted household items doesnot mean that they should be set on Bon-Fire and the environment - polluted with smoke and littered with burnt ashes, a practice which has to be done away with and disposed by other means.)

Thai Pongal Festivities - (1) Suuriya Pongal

{Use Stereo - Earphone, Headphone or Sterio Speakers}

"Veenai Mangala Isai" for the "Suuriya Pongal" morning - very soothing and serene.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-F0...yer_detailpage

Among the Tamil people of Tamil Nadu the "Tamil Thai Pongal" gains more importance and essentially comprises of three days festivities, the first day being the Suuriya Pongal dedicated by the Tamils to the "Sun God" - as thanksgiving of Farmers of the Villages of Tamil Nadu for providing bountiful Harvest of Paddy, and as the worship by the Others both of the Villages and the Cities (Urban Society) of Tamil Nadu for their Family prosperity and Bright life, and hence it has now become the National Festival of the Tamilians of Tamil Nadu, and the most important Tamil Festival of the Tamils the World over.

Celebration among the Farmers and others of the Village Society of Tamil Nadu

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQDM...layer_embedded

On the day of the Suuriya Pongal a space in front or back yard of the house where the morning sun falls is selected swept and water sprinkled to prevent dust rising if it is a sandy area and if cemented area washed with water, and in both cases in addition water - mixed with cowdung and manjal powder (tumeric powder) is sprinkled to ensure purity and cleanliness of the area where the Pongal is to be done.

Three sugercane sticks with leaves coming on the top are tied together with string and poocharam and the bottom ends stretched outwards in three equally spaced directions and buried slightly in the sand and positioned vertically in a triangular form. If larger area is available four sugercane sticks with leaves on the top with botton end buried in the sand firmely in four corners of a rectangle or a square form placed vertically. In the enclosure of the Square or Rectangular form strings are tied around the four sugercane sticks with poocharam and maavilai hung from same consecutively allround, or in place of poochcharam the thennam kuruththolai are placed in between the maavilai.

Within this triangular, square or rectangular space, Kolam design are made with rice flower and at the centre three equi-spaced burnt bricks are place for lighting fire for Pongal. Alternatively inplace of the the burnt bricks there are also available the 'burnt clay aduppukal'. On this triple blocks of burnt stones or burnt clay aduppukal, the new burnt Clay Pongal Pot (Pongal Mann Paanai) washed throughly and placed in such a position so that the person who lights the fire stands facing the early morning sun in the East. In some areas the Pongal Pots made of Brass is used, but the Clay Pots are of traditional significance.

The Clay Pots are decorated with Thiruneeru, Santhanam and Kunkumam and with Manjal Plant with leaves and Ginger Plants are attached vertically and tied around the Clay Pot. Around the neck of the Clay Pot small tender Mango leaves are tied hanging from a thread. In some parts of Tamil Nadu instead of Thiruneeru, Santhanam, and Kunkumam new Clay Pots with colour designs painted around it's neck are used but with Manjal and Ginger Plants are attached. Dried Fire wood are used for lighting the hearth.

A Brass Kuththu Vilakku is placed on one side of the to Pongal pot with Images or Photos of God - Siva, Thirumaal, Pillaiyar, Murugan, or Sakthi - the God form of their choice, along with Saambiraani Thattu, Katpoora Thattu, Santhanakuttchi Nilai. On this same side a large plate with plantain leaf also placed on this side. Six other Plates one with Vetrillai, Paakku, and Pooch Charam, fresh Flowers for Poosai and a seive of very fresh ripe Plantains and flowers, Santhanakkutchi (Uthupaththi), Karpoorakattical and placed on the other side with an additional second small plate with crushed Saambiraani. The third Plate with one of each variety of Fruits of different colors namely Maampalam, Sulaikal of Palaappalam, Vaalaippalam, Munthirikai Palam, Vilaampalam and Maathulai Palam, Thodai Palam etc washed and placed near the first plate. The fourth plate to be with other Palakaarams such as Methu Vadai (Ulunthu Vadai), Kadalai Paruppu Chundal or Kondai Kadalai, Kadalai maa Murukku, Omampodi etc, and the fifth with Sweetmeats such as Aval, Boonthi, Laddu, Aluvaa etc placed near the earlier plates. One big plate with plantain leaves placed over it is kept near Pongal Paanai to spread Sakkarai Pongal.

All people of each household have early morning bath and wear new clothes for the occasion in their traditional garb the Selai, Paavaadai, Vesti, Melanghi, and the ladies and girls with poo, pottu, with or without basic jewels cluster around the Pongal Panai ready to start the Pongal festivities. They stand facing the rising sun and place the new Pongal Paanai with its decorations filled three quarter filled with cow milk. They light the fire wood in the hearth at the auspicios time and await its boiling. When the Milk boils over all Thupa Araththi with Saambiraani, and Theepa Araththi with Katpooram with the ringing of handbell and then to the Rising Norning Sun in referance to the Sun God. While the milk boils over the surrounding household members says Pongalo Pongal and pray to the Sun God within themselves for a Bright and Prosperous coming life.

Thereafter the members of each house hold place a little of Raw Red Rice (Swappu Patchai Arisi) with the addition of Sakkarai, Nei, Munthirikai vatthal, Kasukottai, Ealam and the Sakkarapongal is cooked. Once the Sakkaripongal is cooked they are spread on the large plate kept near the Kuththu Villakku. Theafter the the Lady of the Household does the Poosai Valipaadu to the God's Images or Photos decorated with flower garlands, flower charems, with santhanam and Kumkumam placed on them. Starting with the Thupa Valipaduwith Saambirani Araththi and Tupa Valipaadu with with Katpoora Araththi, followed by the singing Pathikams of Tamil Saiva Thevarems from Thirumuraikal or Vainava Thiruppaadalkal from Tamil Vainava Naayira thivya Pirapanthams and do the venduthalkal from God for their and their family well being. This is followed by Thupa araththi with Saambiraani smoke throught their household with the traditional belief all evils surrounding their househols should fade away.

Therafter the Sakkarai Pongal is distributed among the members of the household and others with Methu Vadai, Kadal Paruppu Chundal or Kadalai, Murukku, Omampodi with rip plantains and pieces of the variey of fruits kept for poosai including cut pieces of Karumbbu to have their first meal of the day with all happiness and sweetness to their pallets. Then the Chief of each house hold gives new coins or notes as Kai Visedam to the others members in the family signifying the wishing of prosperity.

Therafter it is customary to the entire family to go for worship at the nearby temple for their various venduthakal from God from the shortcomings in their life and for their salvation and well being and that of their family.

In the evening the days could end up with people going for Music festivals, Dance festivals, or Religious - Festivals or Lectures or organised Pattimantrams - but not for Tassmark Liquor festivals and end up the day making them look like "Fools - and a laughing stock" 'in the eyes of the others' especially on an auspicious day - whether they come from un-educated or less-educated Tamil families, or from highly educated rich and influential families.

This is clearly pointed by the Great Tamil Sage Poet Thiruvalluvar as follows:

உண்ணற்க கள்ளை - உணில் உண்க சான்றோரான்
எண்ணப் படவேண்டா தார்
. 922

நாண் என்னும் நல்லாள் புறங்கொடுக்கும் - கள்ளென்னும்
பேணாப் பெருங்குற்றத் தார்க்கு. 924


Celebration among the Urban Society of Tamil Nadu

Among the Urban Tamil Society in the cities it single Houses the celebration procedure is somewhat same, but for those living in Apartments too not much changes need except for the fact the Pongal Paanai is placed not on Clay Bricks or Fire Hearth but on Gas Cookers or Induction Heaters, and few other modifications to suit the Apartment conditions and paying much heed to the Fire Safety to the buildings and to the welfare of others who stay in this Apartments.

Tamil Thai Pongal Festivities - (2) Maatu Pongal

On this day the Bulls which gave much service to the Farmer throught the year are given much recognition by celebrating a Pongal specillay designed for them. On this day they are given a bath wiped dry with Tumeric and kukumam applied on the fore hed with the horned colour painted and floer garlends tied around their horns and also placed around their neck. A special Sakkarai or Ven Pongal or both and made with Thoopa and Theepa Arathi made to same and they be fed with same along with plantain friuts and other fruits for them to have a rejoicing Pongal feed. They are also taken around the farms a the roads in the vicinty of same for a parade and finally broght back to their Shed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8Vv...yer_detailpage

Tamil Thai Pongal Festivities - (3) Kaanum Pongal

Kaanum Pongal has the significance of refreshing and reviving the relationship with our close kith and kin, especially the Brothers and Sisters, Grand Parents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins, Brother-in-laws and Sister-in-laws and their Parents which was treasured and valued as great by the Tamils of the past by visiting them and presenting them with fruits and eatables and be entertained by them and in the reverse they to be invited and entertained likewise strengthning, the bond of relationship.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDhk...yer_detailpage

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgyV...layer_detailpe "Thai Pongalo Pongal' Paadal

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-SB...layer_embedded

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3F4V...yer_detailpage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0R5...layer_embedded The Video rendering is in the "Malayalam Language" (which developed from Tulu Language with a 'very heavy mix of Tamil' and Sanskrit) in Kerala (the former Tamil Chera Nadu), which gradually came into existance in this region from the beginning of 13th century (A.D.1201), replacing the former Tamil Language in Kerala.

A Website with more information at the following URL

http://www.pongalfestival.org/pongal-articles.html

Pre-Pongal Sales & Purchases

http://www.firstpost.com/wp-content/...01/pongal1.jpg

http://homestay360.com/blog/wp-conte.../12/pongal.jpg

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/photo/18007835.cms

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-yO9Dt3FD45...t-festival.jpg

https://i0.wp.com/blog.indianholiday.../09/pongal.jpg

http://www.ootyindia.com/blog/wp-con...l-Festival.jpg

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-PL96kAbbTV...tival_6443.jpg

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-d_tzpANKLW...GAL_23263f.jpg

http://www.mgrjanaki.ac.in/img/galle...2012/big25.jpg

http://www.cravebits.com/wp-content/...1728x800_c.jpg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnBq...layer_embedded


to being continued






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