The names and festivities differ, but the significance of the first yield of the harvest is the same across all the states in India – a time of gratitude and community celebrations! While Karnataka rejoices during Makar Sankranthi and Punjab looks forward to Lohri, the states of Tamil Nadu and Assam celebrate Pongal and Bihu at the same time.
January: The Month Of New Beginnings
Pongal – 15th to 18th January
A festival that is celebrated by Tamils all over the world, Pongal is a day of thanksgiving, where farmers give gratitude to nature for a successful harvest. The word ‘Pongal’ in Tamil literally means ‘spilling over’, and this is a euphemism for nature’s bounty. At this time, families get together to celebrate the renewal of life. A sweet dish made with rice, milk, jaggery and ghee; called Chakkara Pongal, is cooked in clay pots as the festive offering to the Gods. Traditionally, farmers would celebrate over four days, with different traditions being followed on each day.
Bhogali Bihu/ Magh Bihu – 16th January
Bihu denotes the beginning of the agricultural cycle in Assam and is marked by joyous dances, feasts and prayers. Celebrations typically start a day before the last day of the ‘Puh’ month when cultivation has ended and locals have time on their hands. Bonfires called Meji are lit in fields, guarded by a wooden structure. Families get together to share hearty meals. The belief is that the bonfire will burn the winter out and keep the chill of the season at bay.
How Are Homes Decorated During These Harvest Festivals?
Everything about these festivals is unique and special. Everything from decorating houses, cooking the sweet and savoury versions of the Pongal dish, family get-togethers and making colourful rangolis (called kolams) in the streets to bull and bird fighting like Jallikattu in Madurai signifies the vibrancy and abundance of Pongal. Bihu is a time for traditional games involving pets and eggs, fun and endless merriment that lasts through the night!
Looking for some home decoration tips, as you join in the festivities? We’ve rounded up some ideas here:
Decorate Home With Art and Craft
Assamese people decorate their houses with various kinds of home-made art and craft items, as they believe it adds an aura of completeness to the festivities. Try your hand at paper quilling, you will find plenty of DIY videos that will show you how online.
Painted Clay Lamps And Designs With Sparklers
No festival is ever complete without the right lighting. During Bihu, decorative clay lamps made out of moulding clay and craft paints are lit around the house for added sparkle. Paper decorations in the shape of sparklers can be crafted out of empty toilet paper rolls and red craft paper.
Craft Paper Flowers Decoration
Delicate flowers made of paper are very commonly used as decorations on the walls and around the house.
Colourful Kolams And Rangoli Designs
Innovative rangolis or kolams using rice powder and coloured chalk are drawn in front of houses during Pongal. Families have friendly competitions to see who makes the most colourful and intricate kolam patterns. You too can get into the spirit of the festivities by grabbing some colourful chalks and experimenting on your doorstep and in front of the Pooja room.
Decorated Pots and Sugarcane
Pongal is usually cooked in an earthen pot, and you can bring out your creative side by decorating your pots. Pots and sugarcane stems, signifying an abundant harvest, can be a part of the home décor as well.
Mango Leaves Toran At The Front Door
The tinkling sound of bells is an important part of festive prayers. It can also add an interesting traditional touch to your home décor.
Lightning Up With Glass Lanterns
Highlight corners of your room with intricately designed glass lanterns. Coloured glass mosaic lamps cast gorgeous patterns that look truly spectacular…choose colours that match your home décor and create the right mood!
This festive season, the HomeLane team wishes you an abundance of happy times and much prosperity!