Spring is around the corner…In a couple of days, Mother Nature's last few months of temperature-dropping surroundings will fade away. The stark foliage and the eerie fog will give way to radiant vistas and panoramas that will extend the celebrations that heralded the New Year!

India, being the vast country that it is, has a variety of seasons that occur simultaneously. Nevertheless, January is one time of the year where the entire country celebrates the harvest festival. From the northeastern states, to the southern tip and moving up to the northern plains, each region gives special importance to the harvest festival, many supported by legends and lore from time immemorial. In the Southern state of Tamil Nadu, the festival is celebrated as Pongal. Punjab calls it Lohri while in Gujarat, it is known as Uttarayan; in Assam, the festival is heralded as Bhogali Bihu and Magh Bihu and in Bihar, Til Sankranti.

Lohri marks the longest night of the year and is dedicated to the fire and the sun god. It signals the coming to a close of the coldest month of the year while at the same time heralds the onset of the harvest season in Punjab on the other. Communities sing folk songs, dance and toss peanuts, jaggery, popcorn and sesame seeds into bonfires, as an offering to the gods in return for blessings of abundance and prosperity. The flames of the fire carry messages to the sun, enabling a warm and sunny day that follows. In South India, you’ll be treated to the festivity that accompanies Pongal, which marks the reaping of the harvest as well as the withdrawal of the monsoons in South India and the Tamil New Year.  

Spring heralds renewal, and I believe that we should be sensitive to the transformation that surrounds us, to improve our own wellness and wellbeing. Experience Tamil Nadu's harvest festival, Pongal, as we pay tribute to the flavoursome cuisine of the land at ITC Grand Chola’s Madras Pavilion on January 14.  There’s also a rooftop bonfire at WelcomHotel Bella Vista’s Serenade Pavilion up to January 15, to celebrate the myriad harvest festivals of North India.