English meaning of the festival
The tenth month in the Tamil calendar is referred to as Thai. Pongal means “boiling over” or “overflow”. Thai Pongal symbolises the joy of a good harvest.
How the date is decided annually
It is celebrated annually on the 15 January when the sun transits from Sagittarius to Capricorn.
Significance of the festival to Hinduism
Thai Pongal is celebrated to thank the Sun God and Lord Indra for helping farmers in getting better-yielding crops.
How to observe/practice
Generally the festival is spread over four days. The first day is dedicated to Surya and rice is boiled in milk, ghee and sugar. This is offered in prayer to Surya. The second day is set aside to give thanks to farm animals and implements. The third is dedicated to young girls who will play a significant role as mothers in the future.
Synonyms between major Indian languages
Pedda Panduga (Telugu), Uttarayana (Gujarati), Khichdi (Hindi).