Colourful Pongal starts in southern Orissa

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Berhampur (Orissa), Jan 14 (PTI) Colourful rangoli,traditional bonfire and cultural shows today marked thebeginning of the three-day Pongal festival, known as themother of festivals by Telugu community in Silk City here.

The first day of the festival was celebrated as Bhogi.

With a sizeable Telugu population in this Orissa-Andhra bordertown, the festival is celebrated with pomp and gaiety. In someplaces, Oriyas also joined Telugus to celebrate the festival.

"It''s is the biggest annual festival of Telugu peopleand they celebrate it across the country in association withothers," said V Satya Narayana.

Besides Berhampur, Telugu dominated villages in andaround Goplapur, Chhatrapur and Chikiti in Ganjam districtalso celebrate the festival with their counter part Oriyas.

On the eve of Pongal, second day of the three-dayfestival, people in different localities lit traditionalbonfire to mark the Bhogi. Telugu girls decorated their houseswith colourful rangolis and staged the cultural shows.

Several girls staged Dandia dance at Military Line, inthe morning of Bhogi. The girls of different ages staged theGujarati dance to appease the Lord Krishan and Radha.

"We perform Dandia because of we believe Lord Krishnaand Radha like this dance much," said one of the performers.

Bhogi is also marked the closing ceremony of Gobbi, amonth-long ritual celebrated by the female folks.

Clad in new dresses, Telugus of all age groups greetedeach other. They would distribute "pongali" - food preparedwith the newly harvested rice, dal, jaggery, dry fruits, sugarand milk on pongal day tomorrow. Several people here alsocelebrated pongal today.

People celebrate pongal to thank the Sun God. ThePongali cooked in a new clay pot is offered to Sun God andpartaken as Prasad. "Pongal is the auspicious day for usand the day to evoke the forefathers of the family and offeredfood to them," said Nageswar Rao, a school teacher.

After Shankranti, kanuma is another festival forTelugu farmers. But here, this festival is celebrated in a lowkey. Kanuma is a festival of farmers when the cattle and thecattle-sheds are cleaned.

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