Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mattu Pongal, Indian cow festival celebrated in SEVAI-OFI cow project

SEVAI-OFI Cow Pongal celebration in Sirugamani

Mattu Pongal, an Indian cow festival was celebrated in SEVAI-OFI- Cow volunteers’ farm in Sirugamani on the day following the Pongal festival, in January 2013 the festival of first harvests. The cattle festival day had been a special occasion as the landlord and the peasant, rich and poor, old and young all dine together in a spirit of bonhomie without any restraint of caste and creed. The festival has been an occasion when the fresh harvests from the fields are shared in the form of food and sweets not only with the community but also with animals and birds. It also represents the change of season. The cow project manager K.Devendaran said, “Mattu Pongal is made up of two words; ‘Mattu’ in Tamil means “cow”. Pongal, also in Tamil Language, literally means “boiled rice” rice and lentil dish but metaphorically means prosperity. The Pongal festival also represents celebration of "fertility and renewal" and is observed either for three days or four-days, after the end of the monsoon season and rice crop is harvested. The time of the year, the decorating of the cattle, the sprinkling of them with water, and the very purport of the blessing, that they may be exempt from evils.Observance of Mattu Pongal is part of the Pongal festival. This ‘Mattu Pongal’ celebration takes place when cows and other farm animals are worshipped. Ingredients cooked in the pot consist of rice, green gram and milk. While cooking, the overflow of milk is particularly observed as it has significance to the householder. If the milk over flows on the right side of the pot, it is considered an auspicious augury. Sisters symbolically offer small part of the rice dishes prepared for the festival or coloured balls of cooked rice to crows and other birds such as sparrows, as a special prayer for the well being of their brothers. On the Mattu Pongal day, cattle are washed, their horns painted and decorated with shining metal caps. Multi-coloured beads, tinkling bells, sheaves of corn and flower garlands are tied around their necks. Turmeric and kumkum are also devotionally put on the foreheads of the cattle. This prayer is a special wish for the progressive prosperity and growth of the cattle population. Devotees pay their respect to cows by bending down, like praying in a temple, and touching their feet and foreheads and offering the cattle food, Sakkar Pongal – a delicacy cooked of rice, moong dal, green gram, with Jaggery  and dry fruits,. Then the entire atmosphere becomes festive and full of fun”. -Govin

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