The 2nd day of Ponggal

Posted by Lakshmi

15 January was the 2nd  day of  the Ponggal celebrations and it is held to honour the humble bovines.  The farmer or cowherds will give the animals a good scrubbing down, feed them with lots of special grass/ hay and let them have a well deserved  rest  for the whole day.  A day off .

Think about it, which animal sacrifices itself  like no other?  It toils and tills the land for cultivation of crops, infants survive on the milk it gives, ( I remember my Form 5 MSE Science question - why is milk considered as a whole food by itself ) its meat is consumed by many, its hide is used in the tannery, its dung is used as a fertilizer., etc, etc, and for all that it gives us, its only food is the simple green  grass.   A self-sacrificing animal which Hindus view as a symbol of motherhood and, who, like the nature of  the cow,  sacrifices herself  for her children   This is also part of  the rationale why Hindus don't eat beef, out of respect for its sacrificing nature to mankind. It is akin to  mother nature herself  and  thus we  can't kill the hand that rocks the cradle now, can we? 

By the way , just  a point of interest, have you come across shopping complexes which display intricate patterns using  coloured rice as part of  their decorative theme during  Deepavali ?. These patterns and designs are usually displayed at the entrance and often times the elaborate  designs depict the  colourful peacock or  other flower motifs.

The motive behind the designs   ('kollam' as it is called in Tamil ) is rather simple. The obvious and superficial reason is that it is just a cultural  exercise in designing and competitions are held to see who creates the best designs. The altruistic meaning  behind it is that, the remnants and leftover  broken grains of rice ,  after harvesting and  milling is done, is used as fodder for the  lowly and tiny ants, without whose help biodegrading becomes  impossible. Thus the 'kollams' are drawn on the front ground of the house, as ants graze on the ground . Hindus are taught to respect all creations of God, from the highest to the lowest, thus the role of  the tiny ants too are not forgotten.  They too have a place under the sun and humans are to respect their functions in the great cycle of life.

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