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Thai Pongal, commonly referred to as Pongal, is a harvest festival celebrated in South India following the harvest season. The festival itself lasts from the 13th of January until the 16th but the main occur on the 14th. The Pongal has very similar purposes compared to the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. During the Thai Pongal festival, the Tamils give thanks to Surya, the sun god, for the bountiful harvest and offer the first grain to him.

Pongal is most popular in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu (the most southern part of the Indian peninsula), the Indian Union Territory of Pondicherry, and the northern part of Sri Lanka. It is common for participating members to boil fresh rice with milk and jaggery in a brand new clay pot. While it is boiling, people let the milk boil over the sides of the clay pot as a positive sign of material abundance and prosperity. Once the boiled rice is done, they top it with brown sugar, nuts and raisins. This combination of of items results in "Pongal" and is offered to the God of Sun as a sign of thanks for good harvesting. Later on the people serve it on banana leaves to the individuals that are present for the ceremony, which typically occurs in the morning. 

The word “Thai” refers to the 10th month in the Tamil called and falls in the middle of January on an annual basis. The word “Pongal” comes from the boiling over of milk and rice during the month of Thai. 

 

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