Today is Pongal festival in my beloved home state (TN). I have very fond memories of Pongal festival celebrations of our family as a kid. I miss being home to eat 'Karumbu' (Sugar Cane).
As a kid, we used to go to our grandfather's village. My grandfather was a Goldsmith and was quite popular for his skills in that small village (population less than a 1000). The Pongal festivities run for four days (Bogi, Pongal, Maatu Pongal & Kaanum Pongal) respectively (Click this link to find out what are the four days for). My grandfather was the one leading all the ceremonies. My mom, my aunts and my grandmother cooked Pongal in the open space in the middle of the house. We prayed to the Sun God (?) for a good harvest that year, though we did not own any farm land :). But you get the idea.
I remember playing and getting myself hurt in one of the steps during one of these pongal which entailed in 5 stitches under my chin -- the scar of which still I have :). Good ol' days...
As grandparents became older we stopped going to their village as they moved in with us. Pongal was still celebrated with lot of pride in our home by my dad, though it was more of an indoor affair -- with pongal cooked in the LPG Gas Stove :). But my mom wouldn't let us eat the Pongal unless a crow eats it first :) (Seriously, this is an south indian, maybe tamil, superstition that you need to let the crow eat first before you eat on festival occasions). And Pongal was the only day of the year when I wear our traditional dress 'Dhoti' and go to the temple wearing that :) Its an ordeal I did not particularly enjoy but my sister used to have a lot of fun with me :).
Ever since I have been in the US, Pongal day was just like any other day -- but I still try to make Sweet Pongal and eat :)
So, here's wishing you all a very Happy Pongal!