TN celebrates ‘Bhogi,’ bonfires lead to smog


The ‘Bhogi’ festival on the eve of the harvest fete ‘Pongal’ was celebrated across Tamil Nadu on Thursday with bonfires leading to mild to moderate smog here.

Flight operations here were unaffected, airport sources said, adding the presence of ‘fog and smog’ was mild to moderate and it lasted only for a while.

While the smog was mild in several areas, it was moderate and more in a string of localities and in such places motorists faced difficulty early in the morning in view a dip in visibility, residents said adding few areas briefly witnessed a drizzle as well.

The ambient air quality survey before, during and after Bhogi by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) for Chennai city is expected to shed light on actual levels of pollution observed.

In keeping with the tradition, people lit bonfires and youngsters beat drums early in the morning in front of their houses.

The celebrations signify fresh aspirations, hope and a new beginning on the eve of Pongal and the start of Tamil month, ‘Thai’ on the day of harvest festival.

Though things that are not needed were discarded in the past as part of Bhogi celebrations, nowadays it is largely symbolic.

On the origin of the festival, noted archaeologist, S Ramachandran told PTI that ‘Bhogi’ began in ancient times and it could be traced to the worship of Lord Balarama and the plough as well.

The present-day celebrations involving bonfires is also a residual feature of the ‘Naga Deepaali’ event associated with farming communities in olden times, Ramachandran said.

The TNPCB, underscoring the ‘Smoke-free Bhogi festival’ slogan had appealed to the people to not burn tyres or items like plastic to protect the environment.

“Our ancestors celebrated Bhogi festival before Pongal festival traditionally based on hope by discarding negative thoughts and cheering the positive thoughts so as to celebrate the Pongal festival,” Tamil Nadu Environment Minister Siva V Meyyanathan had said in a statement.

Such celebrations in olden days had not caused pollution as only things made of natural raw materials were discarded in bonfires, he had said on Wednesday.