Pongal, the popular Tamil harvest festival is no longer a compulsory holiday. The central government has changed the status of the holidays to restricted from compulsory. Right up until this year, Pongal was a compulsory day off. With the change in status, the Pongal holiday cannot be availed of by everyone. As part of the restricted holidays list, the Pongal holiday can only be taken by people who celebrate the festival. The reason behind the decision has not been revealed. This year, Pongal falls on Saturday January 14. So you can be rest assured that you are not losing any long weekend in the process. (DON’T MISS The complete list of long weekends in India in 2017) Also Read - 'Suspending MPLADS Will Cause Delays in Devolution of Funds,' Shashi Tharoor Writes to PM Modi

Pongal is one of the most important festivals of Tamil Nadu and is celebrated on a grand scale with the festivities lasting for as many as four days. With Pongal begins the Tamil month Thai and the festival celebrates the new beginnings by thanking nature. Each of the four days of Pongal have a special significance and are celebrated differently. (ALSO READ Here’s how the harvest festival is celebrated in Tamil Nadu) Also Read - CSK's Suresh Raina Plays Indoor Cricket With Daughter Gracia During COVID-19 Lockdown | WATCH VIDEO

On the first day of Pongal, the rain god Indra is thanked for helping with the rich harvests. This is also the day when useless household products such as old clothes etc are thrown into a bonfire. By doing this, people put an end to the evils of the previous years and they sing and dance around the bonfire to welcome summer and the new harvest season. Also Read - Sunny Leone's Sexy Silver Monokini Look as She Strikes Sultry Pose in The Pool is Too Hot to Handle

On the second day, rice is boiled in milk and is allowed to overflow from the vessel. This ritual is supposed to symbolize prosperity and is performed outside the house as an obeisance to the sun god. (ALSO SEE These 7 photographs of Pongal celebrations in Tamil Nadu)

The third day is called Mattu Pongal and is dedicated to the cattle. Livestock is decorated with designed cloth, beads, bells and garlands and are fed rice preparations. On this day, people abstain from consuming milk and milk products as a mark of respect to the cattle. This is also the day when Basava, the bull of Shiva and Shiva himself are worshipped. (NOW READ Everything you need to know about the Pongal Festival in Chennai)

Pongal celebrations come to an end of the final day called Kannum Pongal. This is the day when women of the house perform pooja using a turmeric leaf, grains of rice and sugarcane. The pooja is performed by women of all ages who pray for the prosperity of the male members of their family.