Talk about Pongal festival and the first thing that comes to mind is the boiling over of the cooking rice and lentils, known as pongal dish. This pongal dish is offered to Lord Surya, who is Pratyaksha Brahman – the visible God. For a prosperous and peaceful year, on the Pongal day, Lord Surya (the Sun God) is worshipped after the birth of Thai Month. Pujas and rituals on the day are dedicated to the Sun God.
How to Perform Pongal Puja?
Surya Puja is performed outside the house after sunrise on the Pongal day. Some people invite priests to perform Surya Narayana Puja on the day.
All pujas are performed after sunrise on the first day of Thai month.
Drawing of Pongal Kolam
The place chosen to perform the puja is thoroughly cleaned and a Surya Kolam is drawn - a Kolam with the face of Lord Surya. People also draw sugarcane, peacock, boiling pongal pot etc in or around the Surya Kolam.
The Pongal Puja
For many people, cooking of pongal itself is an offering and they perform it outside with a tripod of sugarcane – three sugarcane sticks erected like an uncovered tent.
The pongal pot is tied with turmeric plant.
Apart from the pongal and other dishes, some people also offer fruits, vegetables, produce from recent harvest, sugarcane, coconut, betel leaves, betel nut and flowers.
All the fruits, vegetables, flowers and pongal dish are kept on the Surya kolam and a lamp is lit and prayers are offered to Surya.
Prayers Chanted on Pongal
Aditya Hridayam or Surya Ashtotaram or Gayatri mantra is recited. Or you can simply mediate and say some simple prayers.
After The Pongal Puja
After the prayers, some water and flowers are sprinkled on the kolam and pongal dish. You can also sprinkle some uncooked rice mixed with turmeric (akshata).
After final prayers, the pongal, other dishes and fruits are distributed.
Looking at Sun’s reflection in water
In some regions, there is a ritual to look at the Sun’s reflection in a vessel filled with water. Some communities add turmeric and kumkum to the water and look at this reflection. Another unique ritual is to look at sun through the gaps of fingers.
Puja After Sunset
After sunset special prayers are offered to Lord Surya. This includes chanting of any shloka dedicated to the sun god.