Pongal Dates: When Is Pongal in 2018, 2019, 2020?

Pongal dish.
••• Pongal dish. Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Getty Images.

When Is Pongal in 2018, 2019, 2020?

Pongal is celebrated at the same time every year, at the start of the Tamil month, Thai. The festival begins on either January 13 or 14 and it takes place over four days.

  • In 2018, the Pongal dates are January 13-16. The main festivities occur on January 14 (known as Surya Pongal or Thai Pongal). See calendar.
  • In 2019, the Pongal dates are 14-17. The main festivities occur on January 15.
  • In 2020, the Pongal dates are 14-17. The main festivities occur on January 15.

Pongal Dates Detailed Information

The significance of each of the days of the Pongal festival is as follows:

  • Bhogi Pandigai (January 13, 2018) -- falls on the last day of the month of Margazhi on the Tamil calendar. This occasion honors the rain god, Indra, for providing enough rain for a prosperous harvest. A special puja is performed before the harvest. Farmers worship the sun and earth by anointing their implements with sandalwood paste. The day is also devoted to cleaning the house and collecting unwanted items, which are then disposed of in a fire made with wood and dried cow dung. This is symbolic of getting rid of bad habits, vices, and attachments. People paint their homes and decorate the entrance with kolam (rangoli).
  • Surya Pongal/Thai Pongal (January 14, 2018) -- falls on the first day of the month of Thai on the Tamil calendar. It corresponds with Makar Sankranti, the winter harvest festival celebrated throughout India, which marks the start of the sun’s six month journey north (the Uttarayanam period) and warmer weather. This occasion honors the sun god, Surya, for providing enough warmth and energy for a prosperous harvest. Festivities feature the preparation of the Pongal dish, which is offered to the sun and shared with loved ones. It's made, facing the rising sun to the east, by boiling the first rice of the season with milk and sugar. The highlight is when the dish spills over during cooking, signifying abundance.
  • Mattu Pongal (January 15, 2018) -- is dedicated to the worship of cows, which provide essential help to farmers in the fields and milk to drink. The cows are bathed and decorated with garlands, turmeric water, and paint on their horns. They're given a special feast (including the Pongal dish) and allowed to rest for the day. The traditional sport of jallikattu (a type of bull fighting) is an integral part of the festival and takes place in villages across Tamil Nadu. However, these days it's become quite contentious due to disapproval from animal rights activists, who want it to be banned.
  • Katya Pongal (January 16, 2018) -- The feeding of birds (especially crows) is considered to be auspicious on this day. Women give the birds special colored rice balls in a ritual called Kaka Pudi Kannu Pudi, and they pray for the well-being of their brothers. This day is also known as Kaanum Pongal. "Kaanum" means to see, and it's a fun day that's celebrated by going out with friends and relatives.

More About the Pongal Festival

Find out more about the Pongal festival and see pictures of how Pongal is celebrated in this Pongal festival photo gallery.