India has always amazed the world with its mesmerizing diversity. In ancient times India was a land that was an El Dorado of sorts. It used to be referred to as, “Sone Ki Chidiya” or golden bird. The country was a limitless treasure trove of wealth ranging from gold, iron, cotton, spices, to pearls and diamonds and much more. The country’s agriculture too was way ahead of any other country in the world. Culturally too India shone brightly like a brilliant star in the skies of the world. India gave to the world many coveted treasures ranging from the Kohinoor to the Kamasutra.
Given its status as a place of immense riches, people from different regions made a beeline to the country. The Dutch, the Portuguese, the British, they all came from all corners of the world. India became a melting pot of culture. The already rich country was embellished with the best from world cultures from across the globe and the result was a mind-boggling mosaic, India, a phenomenon unique in the world.
In India, languages, food, and culture seem to change perceptibly every 100 kilometres or so. But what is amazing is the fact that in spite of this diversity there is a common thread that runs through the country stringing it together like a garland of colourful flowers.
One common denominator that unites India into a single strand are the colourful festivals that resonate brilliantly across the length and breadth of the country.
India has been an agricultural country and the agricultural roots can be traced to the Indus Valley Civilization and even beyond. Today in spite of rapid urbanization and development in other spheres, agriculture is still the biggest economic contributor and a major influencer in the socio-economic fabric of the country. The influence of the agricultural roots is no way more evident in the harvest festivals that are celebrated across India.
Pongal is the name of the harvest festival in Tamil Nadu. A festival that is a celebration of joy, a means of expressing gratitude to nature and the cattle who have contributed to a good harvest. To know more about Pongal, check out our blog Pongal O’ Pongal – All you need to know about the 1st festival in the New Year.
But Tamil Nadu is not the only state that celebrates Pongal, Pongal is celebrated across India! Are you surprised? No need to be, Pongal is a festival that binds India together in many ways, it is a live demonstration of the fact that though on the surface the different states of the country seem to have different cultures, they are still rooted in the same heritage. Of course, the harvest festivals have different names in the different regions of the country, however many of the rituals and beliefs are similar.
One common factor in the celebration of the harvest festivals across India is the use of the freshly harvested crops to prepare delicacies. Rice and lentils are used across the country, if it is to make Pongal in Tamil Nadu, the dish becomes Khichri in Uttar Pradesh, Sesame seed is used to make different sweets across the country, laddoos, chikkis, and a mixture of sesame seeds and sugar/jaggery are eaten and exchanged throughout the country. It is believed that eating sesame seeds during winter has many health benefits and hence this practice. To know about Makar Sankranti, check out our blog on Celebrating Sankranti: From Pujas to Gastronomical Delights.
So Pongal or festivals akin to Pongal which are celebrated across the length and breadth of the country remind us about our strong agricultural roots and also bring the country on the same page in multiple ways. As people rejoice and celebrate the end of the winter, their hearts filled with hope and eyes with dreams, entire India seems to dance in seamless harmony. If anyone has doubts about the oneness of Indian culture, experiencing the harvest festivals, like Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Lohri, Uttarayan, and others would be nothing short of a revelation. The unity in diversity of India will shine through with a radiance that is unparalleled anywhere in the world. If you plan on celebrating Pongal in Tamil Nadu, you can enjoy the festivities at these resorts- Sterling Kodai Lake, Sterling Kodai Valley, Sterling Ooty Elk Hill, Sterling Ooty Fern Hill, Sterling Yelagiri and Sterling Yercaud. To experience Makar Sankranti and Pongal in the best ways, be sure to stay at Sterling Resorts.