To the extreme south of India lays the 11th largest state in India Tamil Nadu. An approx 2000 species of wildlife can be found here and that ensures enough dense greenery even though the place has a dry humid climate. But that doesn’t stop the Tamils from celebrating some of the most exuberant southern festivals. Being the seventh most populous state, it shelters a wide variety of people of different casts, tribes, religions and ethnicity. Apart from this it also attracts tourists and that’s why this is one of those states where almost any festival is embraced and celebrated.
One of the best festivals to be celebrated is the Pongal festival which owes its existence to the bountiful harvest. The first day of the Tamil month is considered to be auspicious and thus this is the chosen day to celebrate Pongal. Named after the special dish of the day, people gather around to cook Pongal which is a dish made of boiled rice, milk and jaggery. In the Tamil lands the sugarcane crop matures and becomes ready for harvest while people greet each other and exchange sweets and greetings.
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The very next day is the Mattu Pongal which is for the hard-working cattles who have helped them make this harvest successful. India has always been a crowd who worships and nurtures their cattle and animals and this is a perfect example of that. This day the cattles are given the throne. They are cleaned and decorated. One of the main attraction is the bull fight.
The Mahamagam festival is another most anticipated festival which takes place every 12 years. As the old sayings go, Brahma, the creator once had held a pot full of nectar which by mistake was shot by an arrow by Lord Shiva. All the nectar spilled into the spot which is the very spot people now flock to, to celebrate.
The bhogi festival is yet another festival which is of the bonfire variety. People do away with the evil by piling up all their old dilapidated belongings and put them on fire. Then the houses are painted afresh and the cattles are decorated.
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The other festival is the Velankanni festival during the month of September. The tale goes that once a ship of sailors to save themselves from destruction asked for virgin Mary’s help and on being blessed they carried out their promise of building a shrine for her. This very shrine now turned into a church attracts lots of pilgrims and tourists.
Then comes the Kavadi festival. The kavadi is a carries, a stick with two baskets at the end. The bearer who is famed once completing his worship ritual has to fill the two baskets with rice or milk and has to carry it to his Lord as offering. Generally there are hard measures involved such as climbing mountains or walking over fire pit while still carrying the kavadi in his shoulders.
The renowned Madurai temple hosts the Chithirai festival. This is one festival celebrated with life and colour. It celebrates the re-union and re-building of the wedding between princess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar.
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Then there are some summer festivals which chooses its venue in the hilly areas or hill-stations of the state. from boat racesto flower shops to other cultural events- this is yet another festival where jubilancy is abundant.
In the NAtyanjali dance festival, Lord Nataraj, the cosmic dancer is worshipped in the Chidambaram temple city. Then there is the mamallapuram dance festival which starts on the December 25th where dances like kathakali and bharat natyam are performed.
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All of this dance and cultural programs are a great platform for the local native talents to display their skills. Other than this there are many more small or common festivals like the Deepawali, the festival of lights or the golden car festival or the tourist fair held in Chennai or Navaratri etc etc.
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