15 Days of Prayer for the Hindu World: Day 15
Pongal is a Hindu festival usually celebrated mid-January in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu. Primarily a harvest festival, people thank their gods and express their gratitude to the cattle that helped them procure a bountiful harvest. It is also a time to share the joy of harvest with relatives and friends.
On the day before Pongal, called Bhogi, families collect unwanted things and burn them to the beating of drums. The entire house is washed and cleaned, and decorative patterns are placed at entryways and stairs.
During the festival, families cook rice pudding using new clay pots, fresh rice, and fresh milk. When the milk boils and overflows, people shout, “Pongalo Pongal!” Pongal (“overflowing”) signifies the abundant blessings of life. The family then offers the cooked rice to the sun deity and enjoys a grand feast.
During the later days of the festival, the cattle are washed, fed well, and have their horns painted. The last day of the celebration is for visiting neighbors and relatives. All married women receive a special gift on that day, and sisters pray for long lives for their brothers.
Ways to Pray
- Pray that eyes will be opened during Pongol to see the true Lord of the harvest and that thanks will be given to Jesus for His abundant blessings. For Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
- Pray for disciples of Christ in Hindu families who wrestle with idolatrous aspects of festivals, that they would not be estranged, but would learn effectively to represent Christ within their families while honoring Him without compromise.
- Pray that the joy of festivals and family life would be experienced and modeled by disciples of Christ, drawing many Hindus to Jesus, who said of the Father in Heaven, creator of the sun itself, “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45)