Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat reached Chennai on Thursday to participate in celebrations of Pongal and offered prayers at Sri Kadumbadi Chinnamman Temple in Ponniammanmedu.

According to ANI news agency, Bhagwat wished the people of Tamil Nadu on the occasion and said that it is a matter of great joy for him to be present in the state on the festival.

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Celebrations of harvest

Pongal marks the end of the winter and the beginning of the harvest season. This festival marks one of the most important festivals in the Tamil calendar and ushers in the birth of the auspicious month 'Thai' during which marriages are held and new business ventures initiated.

Before kickstarting the Pongal festivities, the RSS stalwart also performed a 'Gau Puja'.

"Pongal is celebrated for three days in Tamil Nadu, unlike the rest of India where it is a day-long festival. On day one Sun and Goddess Lakshmi are worshipped that represents prosperity. On day two cows are worshipped. The cow represents nature and provides assistance to us. We worship her to thank all those who work for us. On day three we meet our acquaintances and eat sweets. Sweets represent that our speech should be cordial with everyone," he said.

Ode to Tamil literature

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Thai Pongal is celebrated on Saturday, January 14, this year.IANS

Marking this occasion to be a grandiose among the people, Bhagwat taught a couplet on possession of self-restraint from Tirukkural, authored by Tamil savant Tiruvalluvar, to a girl of the RSS functionary's family to whom he paid a surprise visit.

Clad in dhoti and with sacred ash (vibuthi) and vermilion (kumkum) smeared on his forehead in lines with the Tamil tradition, the RSS chief recited the Kural meaning 'the wound burnt by fire may heal but not the one by the tongue', the PTI stated.

Meanwhile, the girl responded to him by quoting another couplet on gratitude from the Tamil classic. Videos posted by a senior RSS functionary in this regard went viral on social media.

Bhagwat is currently on a two-day visit to Tamil Nadu which concludes on Friday.

Meet young professionals

A press release by the BJP said that Bhagwat, during his visit, will also meet young professionals and start-up owners and also likely to interact with dignitaries.

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RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat

As per his routine schedule, he will review the organisation's work with local functionaries as well, the release said.

As per reports, BJP president JP Nadda and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi are also expected to take part in the Pongal celebrations which signifies that the festival is gaining political momentum in light of the elections slated to take place in April-May.

Earlier, Union Home Minister Amit Shah was also reportedly scheduled to visit Chennai on January 14 to participate in an event organised by the Thuglaq magazine on its 51st-anniversary function. However, there is no further news on his visit.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took to Twitter and extended wishes on the occasion of Pongal. "Pongal greetings to all, especially my Tamil sisters and brothers. This special festival showcases the best of Tamil culture. May we be blessed with good health and success. May this festival also inspire us to live in harmony with nature and further the spirit of compassion," he said.