Pongalo Pongal - Pongal Celebrations 2009 at Isha Yoga Center

15 January, 2009

Traditional rural festivals - outdated and boring? Not at all, as was proven with the recent Pongal festival celebrated at Isha Yoga Center on 15 January 2009. From small happenings for Ashram residents and Isha Home School in past years, the Pongal celebrations in Isha have grown into a public festival this year, with over 2000 people attending the event.

As the early morning sun touched the dewy festival grounds at the foothills, the first guests arrived, some with their families, some in groups of friends - all dressed up in their best outfits to celebrate the occasion. After a warm welcome by residents who awaited the guests at the specially set up reception, the festival crowd swarmed out on the premises, particularly to enjoy a dip in the Theerthakund and receive the Grace of the Dhyanalinga. They all were treated to an open air brunch to enjoy both food and scenery.

In the early afternoon, young and old reveled in a traditional game called Uri Adithal, where, with the help of a stick, blindfolded participants had to break clay pots hung up high above their heads, accompanied with laughter and cheers by the surrounding crowd.

The main event started at 3:30 pm when Sadhguru came to inaugurate Isha Samskriti's agro farm. He dispersed seeds on the field which was, followed by ploughing. In a symbolic thanksgiving to the farm animals that helped in the harvest, Sadhguru applied Thilak on the foreheads of the cattle that were abundantly decorated with paint, flowers and bells.

As per tradition, rice was cooked over open fire in clay pots with fresh milk and jaggery. From the moment the rice boiled over and bubbled out of the first of the 21 vessels, people enthusiastically shouted "Pongalo Pongal," and a conch was blown to mark the occasion which is considered to denote future prosperity.

In Sadhguru's address which followed, he spoke about the significance of celebrating Pongal. Not leaving it at that, he pointed out how each and every day can become a festival of sorts.

A series of cultural performances followed Sadhguru's speech. Skillful dancers from across the state enthralled the crowd with traditional folk dances such as Salangaiattam, Karagam and Oyilattam.

Isha Home School and Isha Samskriti children in colorful traditional outfits stole the hearts of the audience with their expressive folk dance performances. Isha Samskriti children also gave stunning demonstrations of Kalaripayattu - an ancient South Indian martial art form.

Finally, ‘Sounds of Isha,' Isha's home grown musical ensemble, got the crowd up on their feet, clapping and dancing to their beats. Filled with the joy of the present moment, people celebrated both past and future with the thanksgiving for the harvest and the welcoming of the first Tamil New Year's Day, as announced by the Tamil Nadu Government.

The grand Pongal festival at Isha Yoga Center was not just a celebration, but also an endeavor to revive the rich folk arts and culture of Tamil Nadu, which, on this day, found many new ardent adherents.

Visit the Pongal photo gallery.

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