Pongal is a harvest festival dedicated to the Sun God. It is a four-day festival which according to the Tamil calendar is usually celebrated from 14 January to 17 January. Thai Pongal is one of the most important festivals celebrated by Tamil people in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry, and the country of Sri Lanka, as well as Tamils worldwide, including those in Malaysia, Mauritius, South Africa, United States, Singapore, Canada, Myanmar (Burma) and UK. Thai Pongal corresponds to Makara Sankranthi, the harvest festival celebrated throughout India.

The day marks the start of the sun's six-month-long journey northwards (the Uttaraayanam). This also corresponds to the Indic solstice when the sun purportedly enters the 10th house of the Indian zodiac Makara or Capricorn. Thai Pongal is mainly celebrated to convey appreciation to the Sun God for a successful harvest.

Part of the celebration is the boiling of the first rice of the season consecrated to the Sun - the Surya Maangalyam. Many cultural events in Chennai and the rest of Tamil Nadu are held during Pongal such as Chennai Book Fair and Lit for Life. From 1916 to 1952, annual cricket matches between Indians and Europeans called Madras Presidency Matches were held during Pongal.



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