Pongal is celebrated in the month of January after the winter solstice. The date of Pongal usually remains same as it is reckoned according to the solar calendar that is more accurate than the lunar calendar. For Hindus the date of Pongal is extremely auspicious as it marks the sun’s entry into Makaram Rashi or the Tropic of Capricorn from the Tropic of Cancer. On this day sun begins its journey northwards (Uttarayan) for a period of six months as opposed to southwards (Dakshinayan) movement. It is this fascinating and auspicious astronomical event that is celebrated as Pongal in South India and Makar Sankranti in North and Central India.
Pongal festival is celebrated for four continuous days beginning from the last day of Tamil month of Maargazhi (December-January) and lasting upto the third day of Thai. The second and the main day of Pongal called Surya Pongal marks the beginning of Tamil month of Thai that corresponds to the month of January – February according to the Gregorian calendar.
Pongal brings respite to the people as it marks the end of cold winter and the advent of spring. From this time onwards the length of the day increases and that of the night shortens in the Northern Hemisphere.