The festival of Pongal falls in the month of January after the winter solistice and as such this Pongal festival marks the favorable course of the Sun. It is a three-day festival and the fourth day is a day for outdoors and excursions. The first day is celebrated as the Bhogi Pongal and is usually meant for domestic activities and of being together with the family members. This first day is celebrated in honor of Lord Indra, the supreme ruler of clouds that give rains. Homage is paid to Lord Indra for the abundance of harvest, thereby bringing plenty and prosperity to the land.
On this day before sunrise a huge bonfire is lit in front of the houses and all the useless household things are thrown into the fire. Homes are cleaned till they literally shine and are adorned with "Kolam" designs drawn with white paste of newly-harvested rice and outlines of the Kolam designs with red mud.
The second day of Pongal is known as Surya Pongal and is dedicated to the Sun God. On this day the granaries are full, and a plank is placed on the ground and Kolam designs are drawn on its sides. In the centre of the plank is drawn a large figure of the Sun God with his effulgent rays. The "Puja" of the Sun God starts after the auspicious moment of the birth of the new month Thai. Prayers are rendered to the Sun God to seek his benedictions.
The third day is Mattu Pongal which is the festival of cattle. To the village people cow, the giver of milk and the bull which draws the plough in the fields are very valuable and therefore the farmers honor their dumb friends by celebrating it as a day of thanks-giving to them. The cattle are washed, their horns are painted and covered with shining metal caps. They are fed with Pongal and taken to the village centres. The resounding of their bells attract the villagers as the young men race each other's cattle. The entire atmosphere becomes festive and full of fun and revelry.
This day is also known by the name of Kanu Pongal when colored balls of cooked rice are placed in the open air by girls for the birds and crows to eat. With each ball of rice that the sister makes she prays for her brother's happiness and the brothers and sisters wherever they may be remember each other. Community dinners are also held when rich and poor, the landlord and the peasant, the old and the young, women and children all dine together forgetting the distinction of caste or class.