Shankaranti is one of the few festivals of Hinduism that does not require the routine chanting of hymns for a particular god. Shankaranti, or Makara Shankaranti, as it is sometimes called, occurs on the first day of the month Paush (10th month of the Indian calendar), or sometime in the middle of January according to the Christian calendar. This is the harvest time in India. Farmers bathe and decorate their cattle with saffron and turmeric powder, and worship them with flowers, since cows are very sacred to Hindus.
In Southern India, Shankaranti is called "Pongal". Along with decorating their cattle, farmers in the south pour milk into a new pot decorated with bits of sugar cane, turmeric, and flowers. The milk is allowed to boil over at an auspicious time. If it overflows evenly on all sides, the harvest is considered to be plentiful that year. People in the state of Tamil Nadu in India say the greeting "Pongalo Pongal! "when the milk boils over in the pot.
The main foods made for this festival are made from rice, since rice is harvested at this time in Southern India. As in all Hindu festivals, sweets are made during this day. The most common one is called Chakra Pongal, which is a sweet rice.
Above: The pot, called a paanai, is filled with milk and when the milk boils over, Tamilians say "Pongalo Pongal!"