In southern parts of India, the first day of the four-day Pongal (Makar Sankranti) festival is known as Bhogi.
The date coincides with the final day of the Tamil month Margazhi, and in the Gregorian calendar it is usually on 13th January, but can also take sometimes place on 14th January.
It is widely and grandly celebrated in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu.
Bhogi is the final day in which the sun moves south before the commencement of Uttarayana, the time when the sun starts to move northwards after the winter equinox.
This auspicious change in the seasons, is marked as time of cleaning and cleansing; old clothes and other unused items are thrown away, marking the start of new life.
At dawn, people or neighborhoods often light a bonfire with logs of wood, solid fuels, used wooden furniture, old clothes and other waste items that are no longer useful. The disposal of dilapidated things signifies annihilation of all bad old habits, vices, attachment to relations and material with the help of sacrificial fire of knowledge of Sri Rudra, as the “Rudra Gita Jnana Yajna”. It represents realization, transformation and purification of the soul by imbibing and inculcating various divine virtues. The idea is to get rid of old things and focus on change and transformation that the change in the seasons marked by Pongal (Makar Sankranti) signifies. It is also believed that Buddha died during Bhogi Pongal at the time when Buddhism was being practiced all over India.
On Bhogi people generally create colorful geometric floor and ground designs (Kolams) in rice flour and flower petals (rangolis) as good luck symbols to welcome the Sun’s new cycle.
In rural areas, Bhogi is closely associated with the harvest. Indra, the god of rain, is worshipped and people seek His blessings for a successful harvest, prosperity, peace and happiness.