Pongal: The Harvest Festival of the South



I could hear the singing even before I got there…The smell of smoke was heavy in the air. As I turned the corner, the small crowded ground came into view. Strung up mango leaves decorated the coconut trees around me. The earth had been swept clean of stones with cow dung. Dressed in bright clothes, everyone stood in clusters around the rapidly blackening mud pots. I joined the group in the centre that was singing enthusiastically. As we sang, the clusters of people slowly turned into circles, and before I knew it everyone was dancing. All around me skirts twirled and hands moved in unison as we waited for the pongal to flow out of the pots. Soon the sweet, milky aroma of pongal pierced through the smoke and wafted into my nose; the process was done. Even though my eyes were stinging from the smoke, I couldn’t wait to taste the pongal. A few moments later, I was sitting among my friends, a bowl of pongal in one hand and sugarcane in the other with a wide smile dancing on my lips. The sugarcane, though hard on the outside, was juicy and sweet on the inside. Its pale yellow shade matched that of a ripening banana. The pongal, on the other hand, melted in my mouth instantly, leaving behind a sweet, milky and pleasant aftertaste. My tastebuds tingled with joy as I switched between both the delicacies. It was a splendid morning!

– Niyutsa R, Class 9