This kolam at the ashram was done in celebration of Lakshmi the cow, whose statue was right behind here.
Pongal is on January 14, but there are actually four days of festival. The day before Pongal is called Bogi, and is the day when old things are thrown away. In fact, people burn their old clothes, although this practice is being discouraged these days. On Pongal itself, rice is boiled in milk in new clay pots until it boils over. Special foods are prepared, new clothes are worn, people go to the temple for special rituals, and families and friends gather to celebrate. Houses are decorated with beautiful kolams, which are made with brightly colored rice flour, which we saw being sold along the road. Even the poorest hut has a bright new kolam for Pongal.
The day after Pongal is dedicated to the cows and buffalo which are used to plow the land, pull the bullock carts, and who provide the milk. The cows horns are painted and decorated with bells. The final day is a day of celebrating the sun and is traditionally a day for picnics.
We celebrated Pongal in the Ramana Ashram (more on that in a separate blog) and even went to the Arunachala temple, at the foot of the sacred mountain by the same name. The crowds were overwhelming, and we were the only white people there. There were a lot of families, and they were all dressed in new, festive clothes. Everyone was friendly, and one little girl even asked to have her picture taken with us! Too bad we didn't think to ask her dad to take one for us as well.
I have been away from internet access for several days, and am having a hard time getting my pictures from my phone onto my iPad. So I will include a few pictures now, and will do another blog with more sometime in the future.
This woman was using flower petals in her design. We weren't able to see who won the contest because we had an appointment at Auroville we had to keep.
And even some of the boys had colorful clothes, although for the most part they were more likely to be dressed in new western style attire.
She provides milk for the Ramana ashram, and also got pretty for Pongal!
I'm not sure the fresh blue paint on his horns and yoke lightened the load any for this bullock. It isn't uncommon to see bullock carts today, sharing the road with trucks, buses, cars, motorcycles and bicycles.