January is here! Kartik’s favourite month.
Everything about this month is so good.
Start of the year, the chill of the winters, the warmth of razai and of course, the winter holidays.
But the biggest attraction of this month is Pongal, his favorite festival.
Kartik belongs to Madurai, Tamil Nadu, but has been living in Delhi for very long.
Mom says they shifted to Delhi when he was 2.
Kartik speaks Tamil, though not as good as his mom, dad and pati(granny). Sometimes, he would start his sentences in Tamil but helplessly end it in Hindi.
But no matter what, he loves Pongal, one of the most important festivals celebrated in Tamil Nadu.
Kartik woke up to mom’s calling. But when he opened his eyes, mom was nowhere to be seen.
Then he found her at the courtyard, making beautiful Kolam.
“Mom, what are you doing?” Kartik was pleasantly surprised.
“Today is Bhogi. Have you forgotten?” said mom.
“Aha! So do we get to eat yummy bolis for breakfast?” asked the super-excited Kartik.
“May be. If you hurry up and get ready”, replied mom with a smile.
Bhogi is the first day of a 4 day long Pongal festival. The day is also called Bhogi Pongal. Yesterday, mom and dad had cleaned the house. Kartik was asked to clean his room, which he did.
Kartik could already smell the delicious bolis cooking on dosai kall. The smell of ghee was irresistible. He hurriedly dressed up and sat to eat.
Bolis are a kind of pancakes made out of lentils and jaggery, cooked like paranthas and served with ghee.
“Mom, why do we celebrate Bhogi?” asked Kartik, his 4th boli stuffed in his mouth.
“Hmm…I am sure you have heard this story. But perhaps never knew, it has anything to do with Boli Pongal” said mom with a knowing smile.
Kartik was curious.
“So here it goes. The people of Vrindavan worshipped Indra as he is the God of clouds and rain. Every year, they carried out a huge yagya to please Indra. They considered Indra as the supreme, most powerful of all Gods.
Yes, it was true that it was Indra because of whom it rained, the crops yielded good harvest, but pride kills respect.
The honor and the respect he got from all sides made Indra full of pride and arrogance.
Now, Krishna decided to teach Indra a lesson. He advised the people of Vrindavan to worship Lord Govardhan, the God of cows, instead.
“We are all shephards and milkmen. We owe everything to Gow-mata. So ideally, we should be offering our prayers to Lord Govardhan. Let’s make a fresh start this year.”
This made Indra furious. And he showed his anger by causing terrible thunderstorms. It rained heavily and the whole village flooded.
At this Krishna, lifted mount Govardhan on his little finger and the entire village got sheltered under the mountain.
Indra could cause no harm to anyone. This humbled him down. He fell on Krishna’s feet and begged for forgiveness.
Krishna forgave Indra instantly, and made him realize that his powers will be respected till the time he stays away from pride.
So, we do pay respect to Indra because he makes it rain, making the crops stay healthy and helping the farmers get a good yield and Bhogi is the first day of the festival of harvest – Pongal celebrated to honor Indra.
Yes, Kartik had heard this story many times. But didn’t know this was the legend behind Bhogi. Tomorrow is Thai Pongal and it is only going to get better!