Festivals are generally a great celebration either at home or at religious establishments in Tamil Nadu.
The festival becomes a cause for Religious, Social and Family Gathering at different places on various occasions to worship, enjoy and have fun.
The Pongal Holidays of the state start with Bhogi either on the 13th or 14th [based on Tamil Calendar] of January of every year and the next day is the start of the Tamil month THAI [Jan-Feb], 2nd day is celebrated as PONGAL, 3rd Day as Mattu Pongal and the 4th Day is popularly called by common man as Kaanum Pongal and government celebrates it as Thiruvalluvar Day. Festivals, though marked in individual name it is totally to be called as UZHAVAR THIRUNAL or the FARMERS FESTIVAL.
Pongal- It is also called as the Makara Sankranthi and auspicious first day of the month THAI [makaram] and it is being celebrated as thanksgiving day dedicated to SUN GOD. It is because of its astronomical significance: that it marks the beginning of Uttarayana, the Sun's movement northward for a period of next six month and enters into zodiac sign of Makaram. Pongal is generally celebrated as the Uzhavar Thirunal or the Farmers Festival. All the people, especially in Villages, Cook Pongal with new and colorfully painted Earthen Pots, with New Rice from the harvest and Milk. The entire family joins in welcoming the day and the festival to mark a new beginning. Being the season for the ripened Sugar cane it finds a prominent place in the festival throughout, when people especially children can be seen crushing bits of sugarcane in their mouth and relishing the Juice.
Mattu Pongal- This is a festival that is being celebrated to show the people’s gratitude towards the Bulls who help the farmers to plough their lands and also the cows and buffalos for providing milk throughout the year. The cattle are thoroughly cleaned, their horns are painted with colours, adorn them with new and colourful clothes and take them around with the Jingling bells around their neck. Normally cattle trucks were and even now used in some villages to transport men and materials.
A festival event called Jalli Kathu or Manju Virattu is held on this day in Southern Districts popularly called as Alanganallur Jallikattu, where thoroughly bred fighter bulls are reared and brought to the arena for the fight of control between Men and the Bull. It is an event of prestige for the Owner of the bulls. Community Dining is very popular in which the food is made of the freshly harvested grain. This day is named and celebrated in a fitting manner throughout Tamil Nadu.
Natyanjali Festival – Chidambaram
It was started in 1981 as an annual event, to revive and consolidate the art of Bharatha Natyam and it takes place in front of the Sanctum Sanctorum of the temple. The Five Days event now features about 300 to 400 dancers performing Bharatha Natyam, Kuchipudi, Mohini Attam, Kathak, Odissi. 300 or more accompanying artistes also converge at Chidambaram. The festival organized by the Trust known as ‘Natyanjali Trust’ attracts International attention.
Chennai Celebrates the Great December Music season of Carnatic Music and Dance performances of Artistes of all Denominations. The Sabhas as they are popularly called will be buzzing with frenzy activity on all the days of the Music Season. Along with the Musical treat, the Sabhas make arrangements for the good culinary treat from excellent catering establishments with exclusive dishes. The Rasikas enjoy both music and food.
Mahamagam Festival Chennai & Thiruvaiyaru
It is a very colourful popular event that takes place once in 12 years in the month of Masi 9Feb-Mar] on Magam Star Day at the Divine Tank in the heart of the city called as the Mahamagam Kulam. Lakhs of pilgrims from all over Tamil Nadu assemble here to take a dip in the tank at the auspicious hour. All the deities of the temples in and around the Tank turnout here to have a dip at that time. Elaborate arrangements for the pilgrims are made by the Government of Tamil Nadu with the help of the Town Committee. There is a legend: That Lord Siva Shot and spill the content for creation from the pot held by Brahma into this Mahamagam tank.
It is called as Festival of Lamps celebrated in the month of Aipasi [Oct-Nov]. It is a festival of prayer to greet Goddess Lakshmi to bestow prosperity and wealth. Legend says: Lord Krishna destroyed Narakasura on the day before Deepavali and as wished by the demon, Lord Krishna ceded his request and blessed that this day will be celebrated by one and all in the country as Deepavali to remove the darkness. On this day the homes are lit with lamps that brings brightness. New dresses, Firing of Crackers and distribution of Sweets are the order of the day. Both young and Old firecrackers and enjoy the festival. Every one exchanges seasons greetings and varieties of Sweets and gifts.
It is a truly secular festival, where devotees flock to the shrine of saint Quadirwali. One of the descendants of the Saint is chosen as a Peer or spiritual leader and is honoured with offerings. On the tenth day of the festival, the Saint's tomb is anointed with sandalwood, and later the holy sandal paste is distributed to everyone. This is popularly called as Santhana[ sandal] Koodu Festival. The sandal paste is distributed to the devotes.
Kavadi Attam is a ceremonial sacrifice and offering practiced by devotees during the worship of Lord Murugan. It is the special feature of the Thaipusam and emphasizes debt bondage [nerthi kadan]. The kavadi is two lightweight bamboo basket suspended on both the ends of a long Bamboo stick and carried on the shoulders by the devotee. Devotees dance to the tune of accompanying instruments along the pilgrimage route and also at the Temple bearing these Kavadi. The baskets are normally filled with Flowers or anything else vowed by the devotee. This Kavadi concept is the result of the legend which says: Idumban carried two sacred hillocks suspending them on both the ends of a pole and carried it on his shoulders.
The Portuguese Sailors in the 16th Century who passed the Nagapattinam coast is believed to have vowed to build this church as a gratitude to Virgin Mary who saved their ship from sinking during a storm. The Church is called locally as Arokiya Matha Church, The festival is held between 29th August to the 8th of September every year. Car Festival and cultural programs follow after the Car Procession. Pilgrims from all walks of life beyond the religious barriers gather here to witness the colorful festival. Miracles have earned this church the name Lourdes of the East. Velankanni is famous for its annual 'Feast of Our Lady' celebrated for 10 days during August-September, starting on 29th August.