Pongul- A Feast for Those Cows

I have family all over India, specifically in Tamil Nadu. So one of the nice things I can do on the weekends is catch a bus to my relatives place. During the festival of Pongal, I decided to visit my uncle in India last month. Pongal is a major holiday in Southern India, it signifies the beginning of the harvest so its particular big in rural communities. There have actually been several controversies surrounding Pongal in Madurai all under the lines of animal cruelty. They usually release the bulls and the locals try to tame them. As one might suspect, many animals and people get killed yearly; however, the state government as prevent such things from happening recently so hopefully this year people will have their act together. Since my uncle owns a couple of farms, I decided to go visit him in Tiruppur along with my great grandparents house. One of my friends, Avilash, also came along.

The contrast from my uncles house to the farms he owns is devastating. He has a really nice place/mansion with a home theater system in the middle of India’s textile hub, so it feels kind of out of place. The farms he owns are outside the city center and are quite lovely-coconut trees as far as the eye can see with baby cows roaming around. It is extremely unique. During the festival of Pongal, my family and friends gathered at my uncle’s farm as we did several poojas for the farm and cows. The cows were each painted and given a nice meal. The whole process probably lasted 2 hours. After the ceremony was complete we headed to my great-grandparents place near Salem, Tamil Nadu.

This farm grows a variety of vegetables and spices indigenous to India such as okra and curry leaves. There was a gathering of maybe 50 plus people as we celebrated Pongal once more. I had the opportunity to see my extended family at this one, which was quite extensive. My grandfather was 1 of 7 brothers and 1 sister. All of them have families of their own and most of them reside on this farm. So it was truly an amazing experience. What was unfortunate was my tamil was not up to par, so communication was slightly difficult, but I think they understood my hand gestures after a bit.

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About vigneshs4

Graduated from the University of Pennsylvania 2014 in Bioengineering. Undergraduate Researcher at Lazar Lab at Perelman School of Medicine. Sobti Fellow at Aravind Eye Hospital working on inexpensive cataract surgical equipment for rural hospitals in India and Africa with Aurolab.