Harvest Festival in South India
Harvest festivals in India mark changes in seasons. These festivals are celebrated differently in different states of India. Harvest is an important time as it is a time when crops which have been sown earlier are gathered. And the Harvest festival is celebrated as thanks giving celebration to the nature. The festival of Harvest is considered as an auspicious day on which the sun begins to move northwards and marks the end of winter and the onset of spring. The Sun slowly takes away darkness and ushers in the light of knowledge.
In Andhra Pradesh of south India, the Harvest festival falls in the mid of January every year, and is celebrated as Makara Sankranti which is big festival. Starting from Makara Sankranthi day to the next six months, the days are longer and warmer. And the period is referred as Utthara Punyakalam, and also considered as auspicious in India.
Makara Sankranti festival is associated with harvest and celebrate it for three days. The first day it is called Bhogi. On this day people burn their old things unused early in the morning. The second day is Sankranti, and the third day is Kanuma. People take oil bath before sunrise and welcomes the Sun God with flowers and water, and pray to his blessings.
In Tamilnadu the festival of Pongal is one of the most popular harvest festival of South India that falls in the mid-January every year. The Pongal festival marks the auspicious beginning of Uttarayan – sun’s journey northwards. Pongal festival is celebrated for four days which marks the a period of plenty, peace and happiness. The Pongal festival celebrations include drawing of Kolam, swinging & cooking of delicious Pongal.
The first day of this festival is celebrated as the Bhogi Pongal which is meant for domestic activities and of being together with the family members and honors Lord Indra, the supreme ruler of clouds that give rains by performing special puja worship the sun and the earth before the cutting of paddy by farmers.
The second day is ‘Surya Pongal’ the most auspicious day of the entire festival, where sun god is worshipped.
The third day is Mattu Pongal, meant to offer thanks to the cows and buffaloes, as they are used to plough the lands. The cattle are washed, their horns are painted and covered with shining metal caps.
Kanu Pongal is the fourth day of Pongal celebration which falls is celebrated by sisters for the welfare of their brothers. On this day of Kanum Pongal, people go out to picnic.
The festival of Onam is the most important and widely celebrated Harvest festival of Kerala State in south India for 10 days long. Onam festival is celebrated in the Malayalam month of Chingam, which usually falls in the month of August or September. The Onam festival is celebrated all over the State by people of all communities, irrespective of their religion and status.
Onam a grand festival is a ten day celebration, starting with Atham and ending with Thiruvonam which is the most important day. A flower carpet called ‘Pookalam’ is laid in front of every house to welcome the advent of the vanquished king, and earthen mounds representing Mahabali and Vishnu are placed in the dung-plastered courtyards. Traditional rituals are performed followed by a lavish feast called ‘Sadhya’.
Puthari or Huthari:
This is a traditional festivals of the Kodavas who are related to agricultural and military nature of Coorg people of Karnataka celebrated as Puthari or Huthari. This traditional harvest festival basically observed in the months of November or December. At this time rice is just formed and is brought to the house from the field and de-husked. Farmers are happy looking at the result of the toil and rejoice by dancing and singing as a sign of prosperity.
For the People of Karnataka, Puthari or Huthari is the traditional harvest festival known for a variety of folk songs and dances being displayed.
The Kakkoor Kalavayal is a traditional harvest festival of farmers in Kakkoor village in Kochi of South India. This harvest festival has its own unique style and Dravidian culture. This is Kakkoor Kalavayal means a cattle market, is strongly tied up with the mythical concept of Goddess Sisters of Edapara and Ambassery temples that meet once in every year. Kalavayal has been conducted to commemorate this auspicious day, it is believed.
The Kakkoor Kalavayal is a four-days of festival celebrations starts on the day of asterism, Aswathy, in the lunar month of Kumbam. The exciting event of this festival is Maramady conducted in the concluding day. This shows the physical strength and skills of peasants and their fighters. The sight of the paired oxen racing in the mud followed by a “flogger” and “runner” is enough to drive the spectators in to a fever of excitement.
Other highlights of this festival are the Exhibition of Agricultural Products, Elephant processions and Cattle Race on the final day.