Pongal is a Hindu festival and observed in Tamil Nadu for four days. Thai Pongal is a most important day of Pongal Festival. Thai Pongal is the second day of the four days Pongal festivity which is also celebrated as Sankranti. However, on the same day, Makar Sankranti is observed in North Indian states and people take holy dip in river Ganges. People worship Lord Sun and offer Pongal as a Prashad to them, so it is called as Pongal Festival. Pongal is a popular rice dish in a Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. There are two varieties of Pongal, Chakkara Pongal which is a sweet, and Venn / Ven Pongal which is made from clarified butter.
During the Pongal Festival, the rice is boiled with milk and jaggery which is known as Chakkara Pongal. This sweet Pongal is specially made in earthenware pots with a wood fire. The ingredients of Chakkara Pongal include rice, coconut, mung bean and one can add dry fruits. Sakarai Pongal is traditionally sweetened with jaggery, which gives the Pongal a brown colour.
Venn is the Old Tamil word for white. Ven Pongal is a popular dish in South India even in Sri Lanka. It is typically served as special breakfast Pongal Northen and Eastern parts of Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Melagu Pongal is a spicy Pongal which is made with pepper, rice and moong daal.
Tamarind and boiled rice are the basic ingredients for the Puli Pongal. It is not specifically associated with the Pongal festival and is often eaten as dinner Pongal.
It is considered as very auspicious to serve the Pongal dish on banana leaves during the Pongal festival. The word Thai Pongal means “to boil” and the ‘Ponga’ literally means overflowing. Rice, cereals, sugar-cane and turmeric that are harvested at the time of this festival, are the main ingredients of the Pongal Dish. The preparing the new rice in pots until they overflow is a popular tradition followed during Pongal. The rituals of this auspicious festival are symbolic of abundance and prosperity.