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Tamils celebrate four-day harvest festival Pongal; Vice President Naidu extends greetings
Makar Sankranti and Pongal are being celebrated today on January 14. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu has greeted the people on the occasion of these two festivals.

In his released message Naidu said, "I extend my warm greetings and best wishes to all our citizens on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti and Pongal".

He wished, "May these festivals usher in prosperity, tranquillity and happiness in our country."

"Dedicated to the Sun God, Makar Sankranti symbolizes 'Uttarayan' or the beginning of the northward journey of the Sun. Celebrated with different names all over the country, the festivals of Makar Sankranti and Pongal symbolize the happiness that comes with good harvest and is a celebration of a positive transformation in people's lives.  Makar Sankranti festival is also an occasion to revitalize our lives through prayers and reverence for rivers and all living beings. On this day lakhs of people take holy dip in the sacred rivers," he stated.

Pongal, which is celebrated in many countries by the Tamils, marks the auspicious start of Sun's six-month long northwards journey or Uttarayana. In Tamil Nadu, the festival is celebrated as a four-day festival of harvest and bounty for thanksgiving to nature and the Sun god.

In south Indian states have a sizable number of Tamilians. Facebook friend CV Prakash informs that in his school in Vishakhapattanam, the festival was celebrated with great ferour. He sent the greetings along with a picture of a huge Kolam made by the teachers and students to mark the four-day celebrations.

The Tamils wake up early in the morning and worship the Sun and carry out traditional Pongal ritual of cooking milk and fresh rice collectively in an earthen decorated pot vessel till it overflows. The cooked is then distributed amongst participants who relish it the delight.

However, in most Tamil homes, Sakkarai Pongal recipe as a dessert is specially cooked with ingredients like green gram, rice and jaggery. Also, pal payasam is another classic Tamil dessert made with rice, milk, cashews, raisins and sugar. When flavoured with saffron and cardamom, it tastes heavenly. I had enjoyed the festive recipe during my stay in south India and it tasted quite different than the north Indian kheer.

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