Pongalo Pongal

Pongal-o Pongal

Happy Pongal, Makar Sankranthi, Lohri to everyone in India. It is the festive season now.

What I remember of Pongal as a kid is waking up early in the cold winter morning and walking towards the drawing room to catch a few more winks on the sofa half asleep waiting for Amma to call us to come to the kitchen. We would wait for the milk to boil and rise and shout ‘Pongalo Pongal- Pongalo Pongal’ and prostrate before the Pongal Panai (pot) .It was a time to feast on chakkarai (sweet) pongal and venn (salted) Pongal with some other delicacies that Amma would prepare .

Fast forward a few years.

I am the one who is buying the turmeric leaves, applying turmeric and kumkum to the pongal panai (pot), tying the leaves securely to the pot, cleaning the gas oven and kitchen counter top in the morning ,adding the required ingredients in the panai and simultaneously keep calling my kid an hubby reminding them that its time to wake up.  Now my son ambles half asleep towards the sofa and then to the kitchen when its time for the milk to boil and rise up.

I am more than happy and satisfied by the time I prepare both the varieties of the pongal dish and the “neivedhiyam ” is offered to the Sun God!  So the lunch and breakfast of the day is done minus any more delicacies that my Amma would prepare.

Pongal literally means “boiling over” as the milk is allowed to boil over, signifying abundance.

I look forward to this morning every year

Perhaps I manage to follow certain customs in ways convenient to me during the current times with some short cuts . Our beautiful traditions have evolved radically but the essence still remains the same  and they keep reminding us about the beautiful culture that we belong to.


Around a quarter century back I associated “Feast” with the Sunday “special menu” & alternate Thursday’s ” change” in the dinner menu of the hostel mess.

Over the years I have realized that apart from the taste senses a feast can also be associated with sight, sound ,smell & feelings on an abstract level.

Nature never ceases to delight us. Mother Earth is filled with the most beautiful landscapes that mesmerizes all.The ocean, the flowers in full bloom ,the snow clad mountains, the greenery near a mountain side after the rains, the deep valleys, gorges, cascading waterfalls, sunrise, sunset, rolling hills, dense jungles, sand dunes, the lazy river, pristine beaches, swaying trees in the breeze, the clear blue sky, rainbow, carpet of flowers on the ground are such a feast to the eyes. Every time I get a chance to see them I try to drink their beauty with my eyes.

Once when we were on our way to Ooty , midway during the ascent the bus broke down in the wee hours of the morning . When I alighted from the bus I could see dim light somewhere down the hills & could hear “Suprabhatam” ( in M.S. Subhalakshmi’s voice) emanating from that direction. It was dawn & the view around was breathtaking . I still long for that perfect early morning which is captured in my mind’s eye & ears. A little later we did click pics of ourselves while waiting but we did not try to capture the sight in the camera immediately nor recording a viideo way back in the winter of 1997 was possible in order to capture the sight & divine sound .

Sometimes I feel that technology makes me a little crazy now when I try to click pictures or record videos . I realize how I forget to capture the images in my camera like eyes that God has given !!. Will I really get time in this fast paced world to sit and look at the photos at leisure after a few years ???

An infants smile, yawn, other activities is also a joy to watch. One forgets all the worries of the world and time flies very fast just watching them.

The architecture of man made monuments of historical importance, temples, churches, mosques are also a feast to the eyes.The engineering skills of our ancestors has always fascinated me. Without machinary, lifts, construction equipments there is perfect symmetry in the monuments built centuries ago.

Anything ethnic, handicrafts, handlooms, textiles, home decor, artefacts , jewellery, the riot of colours of the different outfits are also very attractive to the eyes. Even window shopping for any of them gives a feel good factor .

Similarly, some people may find latest gadgets, different models of four wheelers & two wheelers , watches, wild life photography, watching sports, a perfect yoga pose , books (for voracious readers) , old classic songs very fascinating & exciting to watch / experience/ read /hear.

Plants, Bonsai, flowers in full bloom ,well maintained gardens, lawns too are so relaxing and provide a calming, soothing effect to the mind . Off late the jacaranda and gulmohar flowers in full bloom are something that my eyes & heart rejoice in !!

Some people are so nice to be with, we enjoy having them around. They bring sunshine to our lives and are a feast to our souls.

For somebody interested in music , any good composition, note , lyrics are a feast to their ears & they too look forward to attend the performance/ concerts. For a parent / teacher their child’s / students performance is a visual / aural treat.

The smell of earth after the first rains is heavenly.

When it comes to an authentic , well presented food there is an interplay between all the five senses!

Finally beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and perspective is what that makes all the difference.!