The bright and colourful festivals of Tamil Nadu are often accompanied by loud celebratory music and dance, with people often getting into the spirit of the event and starting an impromptu dance irrespective of where they are. For a state that prides itself on culture, it’s no wonder that these events in Tamil Nadu capture the imagination of every Tamilian, no matter how old they are or where they are!
Every festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu is taken seriously and celebrated in a special manner. Whether it’s a religious festival or a cultural one, people get together, visit each other’s homes, draw rangolis and wear new clothes. Of course, there’s delicious and lip-smacking food that is prepared and eaten at this time. The holidays extend over several days as there seems to be no end to the celebrations. If you happen to visit Tamil Nadu during any of these events, you’ll be surprised and amazed at the intensity of celebration that takes place. Here are some of the festivals of Tamil Nadu.
Pongal is the most famous festival in Tamil Nadu. It is the harvest festival that lasts for four days and is celebrated in the middle of January. The festival is a show of appreciation and gratitude to the Sun God for helping with the agriculture. Preparations for Pongal begin a month before, during the month of Margali when people decorate the entrance of their houses with kolam, coloured rice powder and clean and whitewash their houses thoroughly. During this festival, the first rice of the season is boiled as a tribute to the Sun God.
Each of the four Pongal days are celebrated differently. On the first day which is called Bhogi, is celebrated to honour Lord Indra. The second day is called Thai Pongal when people wear traditional clothes and make various offerings of sugarcane and coconut. The third day is called Mattu Pongal, when cows are decorated with beads, bells and flowers and worshipped. The last day is called Kannum Pongal when families visit each other and exchange gifts. All in all, Pongal is a wonderful festival that brings people together.
One of the festivals of Tamil Nadu is Thaipusam. It is celebrated on a full moon day in the month of Thai in the Tamil calendar. Thaipusam celebrates the birthday of Lord Subramaniam, the younger son of Lord Shiva. Those who have faith, they make and keep vows and pray to the Lord. The actual festival day is a penance and devotees carry two pots that are attached to a long stick, and these pots have rice, milk etc which the devotee carries to the temple and offers to the Lord.
During Thaipusam, some devotees also pierce their bodies with sharp objects and profess to feel no pain. There are also some devotees who walk on coals to reach the temple and while this is a sight that is hard to behold, it just shows their devotion.
Karthigai Deepam is one of the festivals of Tamil Nadu, which falls in the month of Karthigai in the Tamil calendar, which is November to mid-December. This festival is celebrated for ten days in Tamil Nadu, when people wear new clothes, exchange gifts and meet their relatives. It’s known as the Festival of Lights but it’s actually like an extension of Diwali. People believe that this month has special importance as Lord Shiva appeared in Thiruvannamalai Hills. There’s also a fair which is held during this time.
This festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu is celebrated in Thiruvaiyaru, a town in Tanjavur. It is a music festival in honour of saint Thygaraja and it is held every January. The festival is held on the banks of river Cauvery and is considered to be one of the biggest music festivals of India where music lovers from all over the country come together. During the two days when this festival is conducted, there are various rituals and Pujas as well.
This festival is celebrated in Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu. Nearly 400 dancers from all over the country come together to showcase their various dancing skills in Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak and Mohiniyattam. Dancers are dressed in their traditional outfits and they all focus on representing their diverse culture. This cultural festival aims to bring together diverse forms of dance for a single cause and spreads the message of Unity in Diversity.
This a popular festival that is celebrated during Pongal, especially during Mattu Pongal. Jallikattu is more of a sport that is played on an open ground where a bull is let loose in the midst of numerous people who try to overpower it. Silver or gold coins are tied to the horns of the bulls and whoever tames the bulls wins these coins. This festival has its origins in prehistoric times, from 400 to 100 BC.
This festival takes place in Madurai in the month of April or May. It is a re-enactment of the wedding of Lord Sundareswarar and Goddess Meenakshi and the most famous temple of Tamil Nadu, the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai is the destination for this event. This is a two-week-long festival that takes place in the Tamil month of Chitrai.
Do check the SOTC website for offers and deals on Tamil Nadu Tour Packages if you are planning to visit to the land of Tamils.