Monday, January 14, 2013

Significance of Ponggal

Today is ponggal celebrations. I thought of penning down a bit about ponggal and its significance. Ponggal is celebrated every year by the Indian community worldwide in the month of January which is known in Tamil as the Thai month. Thus it is also called Thai Ponggal in Tamil language.
Ponggal is known as the harvest festival and is celebrated in a grand scale with earthen pot being used to boil milk and make boiled sweet rice known as “ponggu sorru”. This tradition has been honoured since time immemorial to honour the Sun as the sun is crucial in the agriculture cycle. Without the sun’s rays, there would not be crops to harvest.
Thus Ponggal is a celebration to honour the sun. Astrologically, it is known as Makara Sanskriti. Makara is Sanskrit for the zodiac sign of Capricorn while Sanskriti means transit. Thus it is the transit of sun into the Zodiac sign of Capricorn (Makara).It marks the period of Sun’s positive growth known as Uttaranarayana period which means the sun is growing in power not unlike the moon’s waxing period. The Sun is Up!!!...
However, you may ask what is so significant of sun entering Capricorn. After all Capricorn is owned by Sun’s enemy, Saturn. Wouldn’t Sun feel uncomfortable transiting into the sign of his own enemy and more so bitter enemy?
Well, here’s the thing. One must not just look at the outer picture of transit into Capricorn. We need to analyse further into the star constellation sun is transiting into. The star (nakshatra) sun is going into is known as Uttarashada in Sanskrit or Uttiradam in Tamil. The meaning of Uttarashada is “the latter invisible one” which means it is a star representing great victory. The symbol of this star is the elephant tusk while the presiding deity of the star is Lord Ganesha.
So why does sun reaches its full potential in this star? As mentioned earlier this star has to do with victory in the universal sense. Thus this is the star of universal victory. And universal victory means Dharma, principled living and principled actions. So although ponggal signifies harvest, the real esoteric meaning of ponggal is the victory of dharma over adharma (unrighteousness). The harvest represents the victory of the Devas (Divine beings) over the Asuras (Demonic beings).
Therefore, it is not that the sun is comfortable in Capricorn, instead it is powerful because of the star of Uttarashada, the bastion of universal dharma. Thus, when we celebrate ponggal this year lets reflect on dharma and practice principled living and actions in all spheres of our life. Thus we can celebrate ponggal each year with magnimity and joyfulness celebrating the universal victory of Dharma.
May I take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy ponggal 2013. Jai Dharma.

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