Hindu Of Universe 

“God’s light is within you, It never leaves you.”

Bhogi, Festival of Bonfire

Bhogi festival or Bhogi (Celebrated mainly in South India) is the first day of Pongal and is celebrated in honor of Lord Indra, “the God of Clouds and Rains”.

Lord Indra is worshiped for the abundance of harvest, thereby bringing plenty and prosperity to the land. Thus, this day is also known as Indran.

On Bhogi all people clean out their homes from top to bottom, and collect all unwanted goods.

This day is meant for domestic activities and of being together with the family members.

All the houses from the richest to the humblest are thoroughly scrubbed and whitewashed.

Homes are cleaned and decorated with “Kolam” – floor designs drawn in the white paste of newly harvested rice with outlines of red mud.

Often pumpkin flowers are set into cow-dung balls and placed among the patterns.

Fresh harvest of rice, turmeric and sugarcane is brought in from the field as preparation for the following day.


A special puja is performed on the first day of Pongal before the cutting of paddy.

Farmers worship the sun and the earth by anointing their ploughs and sickles with sandalwood paste.

 It is with these consecrated tools that the newly-harvested rice is cut.

The Bonfire

Another ritual observed on this day is Bhogi Mantalu, when useless household articles are thrown into a fire made of wood and cow-dung cakes.

Girls dance around the bonfire, singing songs in praise of the gods, the spring and the harvest.

The significance of the bonfire, in which is burnt the agricultural wastes and firewood is to keep warm during the last lap of winter.

In Andhra Pradesh this day is celebrated by girls burning their old clothes and wearing the new ones after an oil massage and bath.

Then follows Pongal Panai, a ritual in which new earthenware pots are painted and decorated with turmeric, flowers and mango leaves.

What is Bhogi Festival

Bhogi festival is the festival that comes preceding Sankranthi. The word bhogi also means early. Bhogi mantalu is lit on this festival day. But do you know why bonfires are lit on Bhogi. Bhogi bonfires are considered by many to be fires lit for protection and warmth. But legends say that there are rituals behind this. The word bhogi is derived from the word bhaga. Bhaga means Fires.

In the incarnation of Shri Mahavishnuvu, Bali Chakravarthi was asked to step down to the underworld and become the king of the underworld. One day before every Sankaranthi Bali Chakravarthi was asked to cme to earth and bless the people. To welcome Bali Chakravarthi, bonfires are lit. Bonfires are lit by people to burn their worries and problems of the past and seek happiness in the coming future from the God of Fire. In Sanskrit, Bhogam means happiness. Bonfires provide warmth as well as health.

Air purification is done by burning native cow dung nuts in bonfires.

This kills germs in the air. Excess oxygen is released into the air. Inhaling this air is good for health.

One ton of oxygen is released from 10 grams of domestic cow ghee thrown in these bonfires.

This gas is very powerful. Inhalation of this air enters the 72,000 nerves of the body and cleanses the body.

So bonfires have been traditionally practiced by our elders for a long time. Do not put plastic objects or other harmful gasses in the fire.

History & Celebrations of Bhogi Festival

What is Bhogi, and why do we celebrate it? 

According to the legends, the festival of Bhogi is dedicated to Lord Indra, the God of rains & clouds.

On this day, Lord Indra is worshipped by farmers to bless the land with prosperity, wealth & good rains.

In addition, farmers also worship their Ploughs and other farming equipment on this day.

To celebrate the Bhogi festival, people discard their old belongings, marking the beginning of a new era.

Houses are cleaned & decorated with marigold garlands, mango leaves, and many new things.

People take an early bath & dress nicely.

A traditional rangoli of colours and pumpkin flowers is made in the front of their houses, known as “Kolam”.

Fresh cow dung, i.e. “gobbemma” is also placed to decorate rangolis with earthen lamps lightened over them.

It is believed that it takes away all the negative energies from & around their houses and makes the atmosphere positive.

People cook food with newly reaped rice, sugarcane, & turmeric on the occasion day, while farmers praise their farming equipment with kumkum & sandalwood while delicacies are offered to the Sun God.

The main ritual of this day is called “Bhogi Mantalu ” where people light a bonfire known as “Bhogi fire” with cow dung and waste wood to get rid of old & negative things from their life.

They discard their old & useless household items like clothes, etc.,in the fire and focus on a new beginning.

Women of the families wear new clothes and chant Mantras to praise God around the fire.

Pongal Panai” is another ritual performed on this day where people buy new earthen pots, paint & decorate them with flowers & mango leaves.

Farmers decorate their cattle in the village and offer prasad.

The day is about getting your friends & families together & exchange happy Bhogi wishes.

Additionally, “Bhogi pallu” is prepared by women with freshly harvested rice & fruits along with honey to distribute among children.

Sugarcanes and many green plants are tied in front of the home with turmeric roots, representing the season’s sweetness, happiness, and auspiciousness.

Significance of Bhogi Festival

The Bhogi festival is known as “Pedda Panduga” in many South Indian states.

This Hindu harvesting festival is majorly celebrated in Southern states, where people exchange happy Bhogi wishes with each other and sweet delicacies made at their homes.

People worship & seek the blessings of Lord Indra for a prosperous agricultural year ahead.

Now you know that the first day of Pongal is known as Bhogi while the second day is called “Thai Pongal”, where a special ritual is performed.

Rice & milk are boiled together in an earthen pot and tied with a turmeric plant to offer to the Sun God.

Different Names of Pongal in States

The festival of Pongal is known by different names in different states of India. Let’s have a look:

  • Makar Sankranti – Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Manipur, Rajasthan etc.
  • Pongal, Uzhavar Thirunal -Tamil Nadu
  • Uttarayan – Gujarat
  • Maghi – Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana etc. The day before, people in Punjab celebrate the festival of Lohri.
  • Bhogali Bihu – Assam
  • Shishur Saenkraat – Kashmir
  • Makara Sankramana – Karnataka

In many countries, the day is celebrated but with different names such as

  • Shakrain/ Poush Sankranti – Bangladesh
  • Songkran – Thailand
  • Maghe Sankranti – Nepal
  • Pi Ma Lao – Laos
  • Moha Sangkran – Cambodia

An Appeal to Not Pollute Nature

Bhogi is celebrated on the first day of Tamil month Thai signifies the end of the winter season and the starting of a new era.

However, a ritual observed on this day is the Bhogi bonfire, where people throw useless & old household items into the fire.

The significance of a Bonfire in which all the agricultural waste is burnt is to end the cold season.

But ultimately, it results in the release of carbon dioxide and other harmful gasses in the atmosphere, exposure to which can cause various health issues such as irritation in the eyes, nose, throat, skin etc.

Therefore, people are requested to avoid burning the waste materials such as plastic, polyethene etc., on Bhogi day.

In addition, various awareness campaigns are being conducted by the government to educate people on the harmful effects of open burning towards the environment.

Summing Up

Now you know that the main belief behind celebrating the day is getting rid of old things by lighting a bonfire.

It symbolises discarding unnecessary things & thoughts to start new ones.

On this Bhogi, let’s pledge to celebrate Bhogi in an eco-friendly manner without burning things that are harmful to the environment.

A small act of change can make a big difference.

Happy Bhogi to all of you!!

Importance of Bhogi Mantalu (Bonfire)

Where I come from, winter is always the most welcome season of the year. Waking up to foggy mornings bundled up in warm woolens.

Cuddling up with your loved ones while sipping on a warm cup of coffee.

Enjoying the warmth of bright bonfires.

Winters are so dreamy and cozy.

 Summers, on the other hand, are literally mourned.

I wouldn’t blame anybody for that because the heat can be really cruel.

In many parts of the world, I’m sure people feel the same about harsh winters.

Well, the good part is that seasons come and seasons go.

 What I love particularly about our country though is that we are ready to put the complaining about the weather on hold with the slightest reason to celebrate.

Have you ever thought of how the changing of seasons often coincides with the most popular festivals?

When Diwali is around the corner, you know you can expect some lovely cold days ahead. Similarly, Sankranti is the festival that announces the arrival of Spring and Summer.

Now if you think that festivals and changing seasons come together coincidentally, you are wrong.

There is a deep connection that they share.

The more commonly understood significance of Sankranti is that it is a harvest festival. Which it is.

This is quite an important time for farmers across our country as the crops that they have toiled over for months together are now ready.

Though the actual reason for this festival is to celebrate “movement.” To celebrate change.

This is the time of the year that marks the movement of the sun from the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere towards the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere.

It marks the end of the winter solstice and the start of the spring season.

It’s a festival welcoming longer and brighter days.

It’s pretty cool when you come to think of it – the celestial connection of a festival that you thought was just for flying kites.

If you are generally curious about what’s in a name, I’m sure you would have figured out this fun fact too. The name Makar Sankranti comes from the name of the Zodiac sign Makara or Capricorn.

The movement of zodiacs happens throughout the year.

Going by this explanation, there are actually 12 Sankrantis in the year, but just the one in January is celebrated quite grandly.

Lohri in North India, Sukarat in Central India, Bhogali Bihu in Assam and Pongal in the South are some of the names of this festival.

Your familiarity with the name will depend on the region you come from.

While some of the rituals vary by region the essence remains the same.

Makar Sankranti is a festival celebrating change, the only constant in our lives.

With lots of colour and joy.

The celebrations last for four days and are packed with some very meaningful rituals. The first day is what is known as Bhogi.

Let’s talk about how it typically unfolds.

Because cleanliness is only next to godliness

Festivals are such a good excuse for us to finally pull up our sleeves and clean our homes.

Our lives are so busy and hectic that often times we don’t end up scrubbing every corner of our house as much as we’d like to.

Before the start of the Sankranti season, most people even like to whitewash their houses. It’s wonderful how keeping our homes, bodies, and minds clean tops the list for any religious activity.

Out with the old, in with the new

Sankranti is the celebration of a transition.

So it’s quite natural that the rituals are centered around moving out the old and bringing in the new.

As we clean our homes, we also collect all the old things that we wish to discard.

Buying new clothes for every festival is so much fun, discarding the old ones even more so.

This ritual feels quite refreshing in itself and it symbolizes letting go of everything that is undesirable in our lives.

Almost like a cleansing ritual preparing for the beginning of a new area.

Bright colours and fresh fragrances 
The fragrance of fresh marigold flowers and crisp mango leaves is my favourite part of Sankranti.

The orange and green from the flowers and leaves are beautifully complemented with floral designs on the floor called “Kolam”. We make these using rice flour paste.

Gobbemma” or fresh cow dung cakes are also placed on these designs along with lamps.

Giving thanks for a bountiful harvest 

Farmers use the fresh paddy harvested from their fields as a part of the rituals on this day.

This is where you can again start seeing the connection of this festival with the harvest.

Sankranti is particularly important for farmers who celebrate this as a harvest festival.

All the farming equipment used to grow the crops are cleaned and decorated with kumkum and sandalwood paste.

These are then worshipped before the first crop of paddy is cut.

It’s lovely watching the farmers show their gratefulness towards mother nature for their livelihood.

What’s a festival without good food?

And what better way to show that we are thankful for the abundance of food we have than by creating delicious preparations for the family.

On this day, farmer’s households cook food with freshly harvested rice, jaggery, and turmeric. 

Bhogi Mantalu or Bonfire

Bhogi Mantalu or the bonfire is the most important ritual of this day.

It is this ritual that quite literally makes you throw out the old by burning it.

A bonfire is lit spreading warmth and gratefulness all around to mark this new beginning.

This ritual is quite symbolic because it also emphasizes on letting go of all anger, hate, and worries. 

Ghee, cow dung cakes, wood, and other old items are sacrificed in this fire while the women sing songs and chant mantras praising the Gods.

It’s quite a beautiful sight watching them as they walk around the fire with so much devotion and joy. 

Dressed in their traditional best, it’s really a treat to the eyes watching the families in their most colourful attire. 

The cleaned and decorated tools are also included as a part of this ritual.

The crops are cut with these blessed tools once the Pooja is completed. 

This is not just any Bonfire. It has so much significance.

First of all, it is a way of getting rid of any agricultural waste.

The burning of this waste along with gobar and ghee is said to even purify the air.

It’s such a nice way to give thanks for the main source of livelihood. 

Everything we spoke about so far might make a lot of sense to you. But I’m going to guess the question on your mind.

Why Gobar (cow dung)?

Is this the first time you are hearing about cow dung being used to create a holy fire? Well, this ritual is anything but new or uncommon.

The symbolism of this goes something like this:

Burning of cow dung and ghee is said to purify the home.

Which is why a lot of spiritual fires or “yagnas” have these two vital ingredients.

Scientifically speaking, burning cow dung has anti-pollution and anti-radiation benefits as well.

It contains something similar to penicillin, known for its use in curing diseases and also as a disinfectant.

In fact, dried and burned cow dung is even used in some medicines and tooth powders.

The main focus of the Bhogi Mantalu is also to get rid of the old.

Cow dung along with other agricultural waste is what can be considered as old and therefore something to let go of before the fresh harvest is obtained.

This cycle continues year on year.

And that’s the story of the first day of Sankranti, Bhogi.

The start of a new season and all things fresh and new.

As the cold weather slowly subsides over the next three to four weeks, the summer returns. In full swing. Until next year