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January 12, 2015

When and What is Bhogi Pongal?

When is Bhogi Pongal?
2019: January 14, 2019 
2020: January 14, 2019
2021: January 13, 2019

Do my colleagues in India get Bhogi Pongal off?
Bhogi Pongal is day 1 of the 4 days of Pongal. The main Pongal day is Thai Pongal (the second day of Pongal). Thai Pongal may be the day office goers get off if they only get one day off for the holiday. 

Keep in mind that while Thai Pongal is the main holiday that most companies could have as a paid holiday (check your company's official holiday listing), colleagues with children may take off more days as children (and government employees) tend to have leave on all four Pongal days. And, in some cases, when Pongal falls on particular weekdays, the government may issue a notice allowing more days off to aid in families traveling to their native place for Pongal, as is the case in 2019. Read more here

What is Bhogi Pongal or Bhogi Pandigai?
The first day of the four day Pongal festival, which falls on the last day of the Tamil month, Margazhi, (typically January 13 in the Western Calendar) is called Bhogi. Bhogi is "dedicated to the god Indra (Bhogi). He is the god of clouds and rain, which make the crops grow." (Source- Anita Ganeri, page 9

My recount of celebrating Bhogi Pongal in a Tamil Village
Pongal Bhogi Celebrations
In the year 2000, when I studied in Chennai, my classmate took me to her native place to celebrate all four days of Pongal. 

On Bhogi all people clean out their homes from top to bottom, and collect all unwanted goods. In the evening, people will light bonfires and burn what can be burnt. In the village where I celebrated Pongal, the people lived in mud huts with thatched roofs. The porches of these homes was fully covered by the thatch material, but somewhat elevated from the ground. This part of the home was taken apart and reconstructed on this day along with the front section of the walkway in front of their home (pictured to the left). Both the porch and ground in front of their home was solid mud which had dried. So, to undo this, they put in water to soften it, and dug it out and rebuilt it. After rebuilding it, they took cow dung and added water to make a paste and spread this mixture evenly over the new fixtures to coat and sanitize them. This mixture was also spread on the floor of the hut, on which we slept at night. As they don't have beds, we slept on the floor of the mud hut with a mat between our bodies and the floor. Although, the mixture had been spread on the floor, it did not have an unpleasant smell. In addition, the family I stayed with installed a new ceiling fan for Pongal.

Day 2 - Thai Pongal 

Read about how your colleagues from India may celebrate Pongal in the USA

Jennifer Kumar, author of this blog, is the Managing Director of Authentic Journeys. We provide cross-cultural training for India - US virtual teams. Jennifer has lived in Chennai for 2.5 years and in Kochi, India for 6.5 years. She currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. See our 2017-2018 client project portfolio. Or, to build your teams, check out our India Cross Cultural Training Program or US Cross-Culture Program for Virtual Teams in India.

Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.