Pongal in Chennai

I grew up in small town Tamilnadu before coming to Chennai. In those towns, Pongal was the most important festival of the year. Deepavali was not as important as Pongal. Houses were painted new, entire towns and villages wore a festive look.

Chennai, having lost its agrarian status long ago, has a muted celebration of Pongal compared to the rest of Tamilnadu. People like us, still try to cling on to the roots and try to recreate the atmosphere and ambience inside the 700 sq ft apartments. It is a losing battle, yet we still like to think that we are celebrating Pongal in all its glory. Here are a few snaps from Pongal celebrations at our home yesterday.


With sand to protect the mosaic floor

Kolam on the utensils too

Pongal in progress

Pongalo Pongal

Sugar canes

Freshly cooked food with 6 types of vegetables – Vazhakkai (Plantain), Kaththirikkai (Brinjal / Eggplants), Parangikkai (Pumpkins?), Sakkarai Valli Kilangu (Sweet Potatoes), Avaraikkai (Bottlegourd?), Karunaikilangu (Yam)

A piece of the Kolam

7 Comments so far

  1. sln (unregistered) on January 16th, 2007 @ 1:59 pm

    I was thinking, like the city, Chennai Metroblog also has completely forgotten Pongal and comes your wonderful post.

    Wish you a (belated) Happy Pongal


  2. Ravi (unregistered) on January 16th, 2007 @ 3:01 pm

    Wow… wonderful post (again) Chenthil. I am sure your post would trigger some enthusiasm in people who had forgotten their roots (as you had put it). Thanks for the lovely pictures.

  3. Mysore (unregistered) on January 16th, 2007 @ 7:49 pm

    Wonderful pictures and writeup. Every generation feels that the next is not keeping up. But tradition continues with new ones being added.

  4. dong (unregistered) on January 16th, 2007 @ 9:38 pm

    Correction – avarakkai is a type of bean, not gourd. The most popular English name for avarakkai seems to be broad beans.

  5. karthek (unregistered) on January 16th, 2007 @ 10:53 pm

    Alright, On the one hand it is a wonderful post and nice pictures. But on the other hand It is frustrating that people like me can not enjoy mom’s Pongal.

    Hey!! Happy Maatu Pongal Everyone.

  6. sj (unregistered) on January 17th, 2007 @ 3:48 am

    I think pongal is celebrated to a great extend in Chennai however due to space and other elements it may not be the same as other parts of TN. But I agree that some people do forget there roots which is a shame. Happy Pongal to everyone.

  7. Mahesh (unregistered) on January 17th, 2007 @ 10:56 am

    I hail from Southern TN and as you said Pongal is way popular than Deepavali. How many of you remember those colorful pongal greetings with nice poems in Tamil? Do they still have those kind of greeetings? We used to receive so many of them from my various uncles and relatives..

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