Pongal is the greatest and most celebrated of the festivals in rural tamilnadu, there are reasons for that. This is that season of the year when the crops are harvested and the farmer finds to see some money. It is a three day celebration and starts on the last day of the tamil month markazhi(மார்கழி).
Till some years before, these three days were the most joyous days. Then I was in a small town, Sulur, near Coimbatore. We had some cattle and some land, so, obviously pongal was the most important of all the festivals. The preparation starts, usually, a week in advance which includes cleaning and white washing the house, preparing murukkus(eatable made of rice flour + ...) and long shopping lists. Preparing murukkus will be the talk every where, generally everybody will ask "murukku suttacha(made murukkus)?". It usually takes a whole day for my mother to prepare the dough and finally make it, I assist her in making them by pressing murukkus with the murukku pidi. The first of the days is bogi, evening is the highlight of the day - we place neem leaves + poola poovu around the house. Neem leaves are a symbol of protection and good omen. Next day is the peak of all celebrations - we clean the cattles, paint their horns and decorate them. It's more fun if relatives join the celebration. We prepare pongal and pray to the God, thanking him for the past and for a good feature. The next day called kanum pongal is especially celebrated in household with a girl child.
Now it has all changed for me. Pongal these days comes and goes, not much importance is attached to it any more. What can I do? Being in Chennai, now I only watch TV and sometimes sitback and relax thinking of those past years. Hmmm....