How to observe Bhogi Pongal?

Bhogi marks the preparation for Pongal festival and Uttarayana, the auspicious half of the year. Bhogi is specially marked for physical and spiritual cleaning and falls on the last day of Tamil month Margazhi. Cleaning and removing unwanted stuff and damaged things is the main activity on the day. In the evening, people burn all the unwanted things (Bhogi Bonfire). Bhogi falls on the day before Pongal day. It is also the first day of Sankranti in Andhra Pradesh. Here is a brief look at what to do on Bhogi Pongal?
Traditional Bath
An elaborate oil bath is done at early morning on the Bhogi day.
Drawing of Kolams
After morning bath and rituals, women make beautiful kolams (rangoli). There is sometimes a healthy competition among neighbors on design and size of the kolams. Large kolams are preferred during Pongal.
Some communities place a pumpkin flower in the middle of the kolam.
Cleaning and Burning debris on Bhogi Pongal
The most important activity on Bhogi Pongal is to clean the house, office, surroundings, courtyard and other places. All the broken and unwanted things are removed. The reason for this massive cleaning exercise is to bring new energy into life. It is believed that Uttarayana marks the daytime of the Devas and all auspicious things happen during this period. So all the unwanted things are removed and burned to ashes. Bhogi bonfire is a major activity in the evening.
Caution: Bhogi Pongal and Pollution: In the name of cleaning, people burn plastic, rubber, tyres and non-degradable material causing environmental pollution. Such practices should not be encouraged.
Bhogi Pongal Puja
There is no special puja. Daily poojas and prayers are performed. Farmers do have some rituals like consecrating their tools and doing harvest of paddy and sugarcane.
Purchase for Pongal and coming Year
There is a tradition to purchase new clothes, sugarcane and new vessel to cook pongal on Bhogi day. Some of the old things are replaced. Many people buy new broom, dustpan and other kitchen items on this day.
Food on Bhogi Pongal
A traditional home meal with Mor Kozhambu is prepared in most homes. Some people also prepare kadala parippu poli, Bhogi ama vadai etc. Sweets are also prepared in some houses.
Preparation for Pongal
In most regions, Bhogi day is used to prepare for Pongal, which happens on the next day. It is also the first day in Thai Month. From 2009, Pongal will also be the Tamil New Year day.
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