Madurai is situated on the banks of River Vaigai, and is an important city in Tamil Nadu, South India. The city is also known as the lotus city, because it is constructed in the shape of a lotus. Tamil is the main language spoken here. Madurai was an important cultural and commercial center even as early as 550AD. There are many important tourist places here that are visited by lots of tourists from all over the world. Thai Pongal Festival in Madurai is a three day festival celebrated in Madurai and also other parts of Tamil Nadu, as well as Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
It falls between 13th to 15th January and is one of the harvest festivals in south India. Before the festival the houses are thoroughly cleaned and new clothes are bought. On the first day of the festival special puja is performed and the sickles and ploughs are anointed with sandalwood paste. Then the newly harvested rice is cut with these tools. The rice thus harvested is then cooked with jiggery, sesame seeds, chick peas, ground nuts and coconut in an earthen pot full of milk. There is an auspicious time to cook the rice, which one gets after consulting the astrologer. As it boils, the l=milk spills over and this is called the pongal. A portion of it is offered to Lord Ganesha and then it is taken byh the family. It is also distributed among neighbors and friends. Bhogi Matalu is another ritual observed on this day, where the useless articles in the house are thrown in the fire.
The second day is called Surya Pongal and on this day Surya, the Sun God is worshipped. People wear new clothes and the servants are also given new clothes. The third day is the Mattu Pongal or Gopuja. On this day the cattle is worshipped. They are given a ceremonious bath and their horns are cleaned and polished. Ten the horns are painted and decorated with flowers,. They are then given pongal to eat.
The Thai Pongal is a festival which brings people from all community together and it is celebrated with much pomp and gaiety.