I had often seen pictures of nicely decorated cows and bulls on TV or in print during Mattu Pongal. But this year I got to experience it first hand in my spouse's native village.
Enjoy the pics... :-)
The cows were given a nice bath early in the morning. But the actual Puja is performed only in the evening after the sun sets. The cows and bulls are ornately decorated with Mango leaves, Color papers, Sindoor and even balloons. This day is all about thanking the animal species for their help rendered to humans in helping them get a bountiful harvest...
A popular legend says that once Lord Shiva asked his bull Basava to go down to earth to convey an important message to the mortals; they should take an oil massage and bath daily and eat just once a month. Basava just probably misinterpreted or forgot exactly what was to be said; he announced to the mortals on earth that they should eat daily and have an oil bath once a month. We all know the wrath of Lord Shiva; he cursed his favorite bull and banished him to earth to live a life to plough the fields to produce food for all and draw heavy carts carrying this food for sale and consumption.
I personally feel that all of us should continue to perform the various festivals / rituals in order to preserve the essence of our culture and also to showcase it to our children. Also this day should be dedicated to all our animal friends and not just cattle as our planet is so beautiful due to the presence of all them. I think our tradition has a lot of small expressions of respect to nature and towards each other...all these will add to our values...okay I dont want to go in the preaching mode once more...hope all of you had a great Pongal :-)