The first day of Pongal festival is referred as Bhogi Pongal. It is celebrated on the last day of the Tamil month Margazhi (December – January). Bhogi Pongal is also the first day of the Sankranthi Festival in Andhra Pradesh. In 2017, Bhogi Pongal is on January 14.
Bhogi is often referred as Lord Indra, the Vedic God of thunder and rain. It is also widely believed that Bhogi Pongal is the Indra Vizha festival observed during the Chola period.
Bhogi Pongal is a sort of preparation day for Pongal. The next day is the most important Pongal day which is referred as Thai Pongal or Perum Pongal. On the Bhogi Pongal day people, decorate their homes and buy new vessels and other utensils and food items needed for the Pongal celebration.
A major activity on the day is the burning of things that are of no use. A sort of cleansing ceremony. But nowadays this Bhogi bonfire causes pollution due to the burning of plastic and rubber.
Interestingly, a similar ceremony is held in
during the Magh Bihu celebration. The evening before Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu is referred as Uruka and on this day pyramidal structures erected using wood are burned and the ashes are scattered on paddy fields. Assam