Chennai: People of Tamil Nadu today celebrated Pongal with fervour, getting up early, donning new clothes and visiting temples.
The festival of Pongal is celebrated to thank the Sun, rain and farm animals.
At homes, the aroma of ghee-fried cashews, almonds and cardamom wafted through as the traditional dish of rice, jaggery and Bengal gram was made.
As the ingredients of Chakarai Pongal boiled in milk, people called out 'Pongolo Pongal, Pongolo Pongal'.
The mud pot or stainless steel in which the dish is cooked is decorated by tying up ginger, turmeric, sugarcane piece and banana at the neck.
The Pongal dish is offered to the Sun god as thanks giving and eaten as 'prasad'. It is made at the auspicious time and in some homes conches are blown prior to the formal offering.
People exchanged greetings and Chakarai Pongal with their neighbours.
The Pongal festivities take place for over four days, the first day being Bhogi, which was on Thursday when people burn their old clothes, mats and other items. New paints are applied on homes.
The second day is the main Pongal festival celebrated on the first day of the Tamil month Thai, that is on Friday.
In villages the sweet pongal is cooked in the open ground.
The third day is the Mattu Pongal when bulls and cows are bathed and their horns painted and worshipped as they play an important role in farms.
Women feed the birds with coloured rice and pray for the welfare of their brothers.