The harvest festival of 'Pongal' was celebrated with traditional fervour across Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Puducherry today, with people preparing traditional sweet rice and offering prayers to the Sun God. Every street and locality was decked up with a fresh coat of 'kolam' (rangoli, drawings made of flour) welcoming the Tamil month of 'Thai', the dawn of which is traditionally viewed as a harbinger of new beginnings and prosperity. Homes were decorated with mango leaves and strings of flowers as a mark of ushering in auspiciousness. People offered special prayers at temples and exchanged greetings. Sweet rice (Pongal), made of jaggery or sugar with rice and milk, in a traditional mud pot, was offered to the Sun God along with pieces of sugarcane. The food was also shared with relatives and neighbours.
Cinema halls drew huge crowds and almost all business establishments including retail outlets and the ubiquitous tea stalls were shut as the festive mood took over. Security has, meanwhile, been strengthened at several places, including the Marina Beach here, where people throng in large numbers during the 'Kaanum Pongal' (when people go on an outing) festival on Tuesday. Pongal is celebrated traditionally for four days beginning with Bogi, which was observed yesterday. Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister K Palaniswami, DMK working president M K Stalin and other leaders extended their Pongal greetings. In Puducherry, people clad in new garments turned up at various shrines to offer prayers to deities. Lt Governor Kiran Bedi, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy and his ministerial colleagues were among those who greeted the people of the Union Territory.
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