Bhogi marks the first day of Pongal festival that lasts for 4 days. In Gregorian calendar, it falls on January 13 but it is often celebrated on January 14. It is celebrated on the last date of Maargazhi (Tamil month), in Tamil Calendar. This festival is widely celebrated in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana. On this day, people discard unused and old things and focus on new items that can bring transformation or change. Bonfire is lit with logs of wood, unused wooden furniture and other solid fuels that are no longer in use, at dawn. The disposal of waste items denotes the sacrifice of all vices, old habits, and attachment to materialistic things and relations in the sacrificial fire of Rudra, also known as “Rudra Gita Jnana Yajna”. It showcases transformation, realization and purification of soul by inculcating and imbibing a lot of divine virtues. Bhogi is usually celebrated the day before Makar Sankranti, Thai Pongal and Lohri.
Observing Bhogi Pongal
Bhogi Pongal marks the preparation of auspicious part of the year, Uttarayana and the Pongal festival. Bhogi is marked specifically for cleaning spiritual and physical self and falls on last date of Margazhi, Tamil month. Usually damaged things and unwanted stuffs are cleaned and removed this day. All the unwanted belongings are burned in the evening on bonfire. In Andhra Pradesh, it is the first day of Makar Sankranti. Here’s how to observe Bhogi Pongal.
Taking Traditional Bath
Early morning, a traditional oil bath is taken on Bhogi Pongal day.
After rituals and taking bath, women and girls used to make Kolams or Rangoli. On the size and design of Rangoli, there is often a healthy competition held among friends and neighbors. During Pongal festival, large rangolis need to be made. In the middle of Rangoli, a pumpkin flower is placed in some communities.
Burning and Removing Debris
Cleaning the office, house, surroundings and courtyard is the most common and mandatory process on Bhogi festival- celebration. People remove all the unwanted and broken items. All the unwanted and broken items are removed. The reason behind this mass cleaning is to add new energy to life. Uttarayana is believed to mark the day of Devas and people do all the good things during that period. All the unwanted items are burned to ashes and removed. Bhogi bonfire is an important activity during the evening.
Note – Knowingly and unknowingly, people cause pollution by burning rubber, plastic, tires and other non-degradable things in the name of cleaning.
Bhogi Pongal Pooja
Regular prayers and worships are performed. Farmers perform some rituals, such as consecrating the tools and harvesting sugarcane and paddy fields.
Shopping for Pongal
Buying sugarcane, new clothes and vessel to cook pongal is a tradition. People replace some of the old things. A lot of people buy new dustbin, broom, and other kitchen items.
Mor Kozhambu and traditional home meal is usually prepared. Some homes also prepare Bhogi Ama Vadai, Kadala Parippu Poli etc. along with sweets.