These weekends India will start the celebration of two important festivals of Lohri and Pongal. They differ by not only location, but also in its rituals and the essence.
Lohri is annually celebrated on the 13th of January in the North of India, in Punjab, and is dedicated to the end of winter. Actually, winters in this region are rather harsh, though not long lasting. Thus, in the period from December to February temperatures may get low up to -4 °C. Therefore, when the frosts are retreating, the people lit bonfires in honor of the God Agni, committing special rites with prayers for well-being. After that, all those who are present are given treats and gifts. The next morning, children come to the neighbors with the "carols" for a symbolic payment — money or sweets.
Pongal, the Hindu harvest festival, is traditionally dedicated to the Sun God Surya, and is celebrated in the South and Central part of India from the 14th to 16th of January, after the winter equinox. The Indians prepare "Pongal", a dish of sweet rice, which means it in Tamil. This holiday is very important for Hindus. It is believed that the gods are coming to earth after a six-month long night during Pongal, so people have a chance to ask them for a good harvest and happiness.
Happy holidays to you from “Talk of the Town”!