The southern state of Tamil Nadu is renowned for its local festivals which are celebrated with a lot of pomp and pride by the local Tamils inhabiting the state. Most of us are aware that Tamil Nadu is popular for numerous scenic tourist places, local Chettinad cuisine, beaches, and sacred temples but have you ever pondered about the famous festivals of Tamil Nadu and their significance to the millions of Tamils living in the state? Paying a visit to Tamil Nadu during the auspicious local festivals can be truly worth the trip because it can help you learn about the culture and religious traditions of the Tamil people.
How many Festivals are there in Tamil Nadu?
The pride of the Tamils lies in their 7 famous festivals of Tamilnadu which are celebrated worldwide by the people with Tamil origin. Most of these famous Tamil festivals have religious significance to some popular Hindu deity like Surya or Nataraja in the Hindu pantheon of Gods and are celebrated along with traditional festive foods to savor and share with friends and family. That being said, temple visits, pujas and rituals are also integral to most of the famous festivals of Tamil Nadu.
Here’s our take on the bucket-list of famous festivals of Tamil Nadu that are worth coinciding with your trip to Tamil Nadu:
The Harvest-Festival of Pongal
It may come as a surprise to most of us that the country-wide harvest festival of Makara Sankranthi is known as Pongal in Tamil Nadu and has its own unique Tamil vibe to it. This is one of the most famous festivals of Tamil Nadu dedicated to Sun God or Surya and the festival lasts for four days of Bhoghi, Pongal, Mattu Pongal, and kanuma; it falls in the Thai month of the Tamil Calendar and marks the beginning of the new harvest season.
The first day of the festival, known as Bhoghi signifies a new beginning in life. On this day the locals create Bhoghi bonfires to burn useless old household items and other wastes to make way for new things in life. The second day is the main festival of Pongal and it marks the beginning of the new harvest season. The third day is Mattu Pongal, also known as the festival of cows and this involves the worshipping of the cattle for invoking blessings of good harvest yields in the months ahead. The festival of Pongal culminates with the final day celebrations of kanuma for invoking blessings of good prosperity for the families. Interestingly, Pongal is the traditional sweet dish of this harvest festival and bears the same name as the festival!
Pongal 2020 date: 15th January
Tamil New Year’s Day or Puthandu
This is one of most famous festivals of Chennai, best celebrated in Chennai city of Tamil Nadu for learning about the culture and traditions of the local Tamils. Tamil New Year’s Day, locally known as Puthandu marks the beginning of a new year in the Tamil Calendar and falls in the month of April. Beautiful Kolams or colorful chalk drawings are made by the women of the households on the floor at the entrances of the houses on this festival day. The main highlight of Puthandu is the delicious mango pickle, a sweet ‘n’ sour dish made with raw mangoes, neem leaves and jaggery.
Tamil New Year’s Day 2020 date: 14th April
Natyanjali Dance Festival
Natyanjali Dance Festival is another famous Tamil Nadu Festival with a religious significance. ‘Natya’ means dance and ‘anjali’ means offering. This is a dance festival dedicated to the Hindu deity Nataraja or Lord Shiva and is celebrated annually on Maha Shivrathri day at the Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu. The festival strengthens the message of unity among the people of India by bringing together at least 300 dancers from diverse cultures of India with their dance performances belonging to various Indian schools of dance including Kathak, Kathakali and Bharithanatyam.
Natyanjali Dance Festival 2020 date: 19th February
Thaipusam is a popular Tamil Nadu festival that falls in the Thai month of the Tamil Calendar. The festival marks the birthday celebrations of Lord Subramaniam, the younger son of Lord Shiva. The main highlight of the festival is devotees carry ‘kavadis’ over their shoulders on the festival day to offer penance to the Lord. A ‘Kavadi’ is a long stick with two hanging pots on either sides with offerings of rice and milk in them.
Thaipusam 2020 date: 8th February
Thiruvaiyaru Festival is an annual Tamil festival, coincides with Pushya Bahula Panchami day and is a tribute to Thaygaraja, a popular music composer and saint with origins from Thiruvaiyaru town in Thanjavur district. Thiruvaiyuru Festival is essentially an annual music-festival that takes in the month of January at the Samadhi of the renowned singer by the Cauvery Lake in the serene town of Thiruvaiyuru. Religious rituals and ‘pujas’ are an integral part of this festival.
Thiruvaiyaru Festival 2020: 11th January to 15th January
Karthigai Deepam, also known as the ‘Festival of Lights’ is a 10 day annual Tamil festival that takes place in the Karthigai month of the Tamil Calendar during November to mid-December. The festival is considered very auspicious and promises the beginning of good things in life for the devotees with the passing away of all bad things. Like most Hindu festivals, the Tamil festival of Karthigai Deepam occurs when there’s a shift in the position of one of the heavenly bodies in our solar system; Karthigai Deepam occurs when the moon aligns with the Karthigai constellation.
Karthigai Deepam 2020 date: 29th November
Mahamaham is one of the vibrant and famous festivals of Tamil Nadu that is worth celebrating during your holiday in Tamil Nadu. The festival is unique and it involves the devotees dipping themselves in the waters of Mahamaham tank to cleanse themselves of their sins. Interestingly the festival is celebrated by the Tamils once in every 12 years in the month of Masi in the Tamil calendar when the planet Jupiter aligns itself with the star sign Leo in the constellation.
Mahamaham Festival 2020: Occurs once in 12 years
Now that you have got a good insight on the 7 famous festivals of Tamil Nadu, it’s about time you planned a travel itinerary for Tamil Nadu well in advance to experience these rich and colorful Tamil festivals with the local Tamil vibe. The capital city of Tamil Nadu, Chennai can be a good jump-off point to explore the vast state of Tamil Nadu. Have your cheap flights to Chennai booked with IndianEagle.com right now for huge savings on airfares.