BERHAMPUR: Telugu community across southern districts of Odisha observed the three-day Pongal festival which commenced on Tuesday. The Silk City, which has a sizable Telugu population, came alive as people celebrated the harvest festival with pomp and gaiety.
Colourful rangolis, bonfires and cultural programmes marked the first day which is celebrated as Bhogi. On the day, members of Telugu community lit traditional bonfires and organised cultural shows. People donned new attire and greeted each other on the occasion.
The first day also marked the closing ceremony of 'Gobbi', a month-long ritual observed by women. The second day of the festival on Wednesday is Makara Sankranti. On the last day, Kanuma is celebrated mostly by farmers who clean their cattle and cattle-sheds on the occasion. Advisor of Andhra Bhashabhivardhani Samajam (ABS) Srinivas Rajana said around eight lakh Telugu people reside in Odisha out of which 40 per cent are in Berhampur.
ABS is an organisation spearheading a movement to protect the social, cultural and literary interests of Telugu community in south Odisha. "Pongal is the biggest annual festival of the Telugu community here. We invoked our forefathers and offered food to them," said Rajana.
On the day, many Telugu people, including women and children, clad in new attire assembled at Satya Narayana Swamy temple in the city. In the Prakasam Hall, a bonfire was lit by Berhampur MP Chandra Sekhar Sahu and MLA Bikram Panda. This was followed by cultural programmes organised by the Mahila Samaj.
Apart from the Telugu community, Odias also celebrated Bhogi in a grand manner. Fire pits were dug at every nook and corner of the city and people placed water-filled utensils for heating and roasted sweet potatoes as per the tradition.
According to the legend, the water boiled at the Bhogi fire pits has the power to cure various diseases. Sources said locals gathered near the fire pits in large numbers due to a dip in the temperature.