Thai Pongal is a multi-day harvest festival celebrated by Tamils, usually on 14 or 15 January 1. It is dedicated to the Kathiravan (Sun), the Sun God, and is observed in the month of Thai according to the Tamil solar calendar 1. The festival marks the end of winter solstice and the start of the sun’s six-month-long journey northwards called Uttar Ayana when the sun enters Capricorn 1. The festival is named after the ceremonial “Pongal”, which means “to boil, overflow” and refers to the traditional dish prepared from the new harvest of rice boiled in milk with jaggery .

Thai Pongal is considered a time of thanksgiving to the Sun God for the abundant agricultural yields and to express gratitude for the blessings received 2. It also marks the beginning of the Tamil month of Thai 2. The festival is celebrated over three or four days with Bhogi, Thai Pongal, Maatu Pongal, and Kaanum Pongal, observed on consecutive days 1. According to tradition, the festival is an occasion for decorating rice-powder-based kolam artworks, offering prayers in the home, temples, getting together with family and friends, and exchanging gifts to renew social bonds of solidarity .