wishing my new and old friends a joyous Pongal, which I just learned of yesterday
"The spirit of Pongal, the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu, is giving thanks to God for a bountiful harvest as people prepare a special dish called 'Sarkkarai Pongal' and pray for the blessings of the Sun God. One of the most popular Tamilian festival, it is celebrated on January 14th every year coinciding with Makar Sankranti in the North, Lohri in Punjab, Bhogali Bihu in Assam and Bhogi of Andhra Pradesh. One of the very few Dravidian festivals that have survived the Indo-Aryan influences, Pongal finds little reference in Puranas. Falling just after the winter solstice and a bountiful harvest, Pongal marks the season of celebration and joyous activities. Mainly a three-day festival, the fourth day just after the festival is dedicated to outdoors and excursions.
Pongal also marks the beginning of a New Year and is the day to praise and thank God with full devotion and faith and sincerity of heart. Old vices and past should be abandoned forever on this day as we get ready to start life afresh. The festival covers all living beings including humans, cattle and birds and crops. Even the insects have not been overlooked and are offered rice flour to feed on in the form of 'Kollam' on the entranceway of the houses. Thus, Pongal is a day for peace and happiness for all." - from http://festivals.iloveindia.com/pongal/