Hindus celebrate Thai Pongal on a grand scale the world over in the month of January.
Thai Pongal marks the Indic solstice when the sun enters the 10th house of the Indian zodiac Capricorn. It is an occasion for celebrations.
'Thai' in 'Thai Pongal' comes from January, which marks the beginning of the harvesting season according to the Tamil calendar. 'Pongal' is a type of rice cooked in milk and sweetened with jaggery, offered to the Sun God. Pongal also means 'boiling over' or 'overflowing'.
It is essentially a form of thanksgiving, performed by offering the first portion of the harvest to the Sun God or Surya. The sun is the source of abundant power, especially in the tropics, where it shines all year round.
In Tamil Nadu, where 'Thai Pongal' originated, celebrations go on for four full days unlike in Sri Lanka.
The first day of Thai Pongal, January 15 marks the beginning of multiple festivals. 'Thai Pongal' is marked by a series of activities, just as before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. All houses and gardens are cleaned and garbage from last year burnt.