Ahead of the Pongal festival, which is set to begin on January 15, the Kanchipuram flower market is facing a challenge as the influx of flowers has led to a significant drop in prices.
Located adjacent to Koyembedu in Chennai, this renowned market traditionally sees traders sourcing flowers from various districts and villages around Kanchipuram.
Jasmine is currently priced at Rs 2,000, marigold at Rs 120, mulberry at Rs 1,000, and rose at Rs 140. However, florists are expressing concern as the market remains relatively empty, attributing the decline in prices to the massive sale of flowers on Bogi just before the festival.
Flower dealer Venkatesan suggests that the prices might rebound in the coming days, anticipating a rise tomorrow and the day after due to the continued high arrival of flowers in Kanchipuram.
“The price of flowers has fallen today, and the price of flowers may increase tomorrow and the day after because the arrival of flowers to Kanchipuram is high,” he said.
Meanwhile, the harvest of ‘Sengarumbu’ or Pongal sugarcane began in Madurai after the Tamil Nadu Civic Supply Corporation began procurement of sugarcane to add to the Pongal gift hampers distributed through ration shops. The corporation will procure 7.67 lakhs of sugarcane for distribution to the ration card holders in the district.
Notably, Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated by the Tamil community. It is a celebration to thank the Sun, Mother Nature, and the various farm animals that help to contribute to a bountiful harvest. Celebrated over four days, Pongal also marks the beginning of the Tamil month called Thai, which is considered an auspicious month. It usually falls on the 14th or 15th of January each year.
Pongal is also the name of the dish made and eaten during this festival. It is a mixture of boiled, sweet rice. It is derived from the Tamil word pongu, which means “to boil over”.
The first day of Pongal is called Bhogi. It is a day where cleaning and discarding old belongings are carried out to signify a fresh start. New clothes are worn, and houses are decorated in the spirit of the festivity.
The second day is the main day of Pongal and is celebrated as Surya Pongal. On this day, the Sun God is honoured. Colourful decorative floor patterns called kolam are drawn at the entrance of one’s home, and each household cooks a pot of fresh rice with milk.
As the milk boils freely over the pot, family members shout out happily, “Pongalo Pongal”! After the Pongal is offered to the Sun God, they will feast on several Pongal dishes that are prepared especially for the day.
The third day of Pongal is called Maatu Pongal. This day is devoted to honouring and worshipping the cattle (Maatu) to remember the work they do – ploughing the land. Cows are bathed and adorned with multi-coloured beads, flower garlands, and bells. In Singapore, Thanksgiving prayers would be conducted for the cattle at some dairy farms owned by Indians.
The fourth day of Pongal is called Kaanum Pongal. On this day, importance is given to the community and strengthening ties. Families gather together to have a sumptuous meal. Younger members seek the blessings of the older members of their families. It is also a day for traditional Indian folk dances such as mayilattam and kolattam.
Pongal is not a gazetted holiday across the nation, but it is a religious holiday, particularly in South and Central India, for employees. However, schools and colleges in these areas remain closed for all four days of Pongal, and businesses related to agriculture also remain closed.
(with inputs from ANI)