Pongal itself falls on the first day of the Tamil month of Thai (January 14 or 15). It is celebrated by boiling rice with fresh milk and jaggery in new clay pots. The rice is later topped with sugar, ghee, cashew nuts and raisins. This tradition gives Pongal its name. The rice is traditionally cooked at sun rise.
The moment the milk boils over and bubbles out of the vessel, the tradition is to shout of "Pongalo Pongal!", introduce freshly harvested rice grains in the pot and blow the sanggu (a conch). Tamils consider it a good sign to watch the milk boil over as it connotes good luck and prosperity. The newly cooked rice is traditionally offered to the Sun God at sunrise to demonstrate gratitude for the harvest. It is later served to the people present in the house for the ceremony. People prepare savories and sweets such as vadai, murukku, paayasam, visit each other and exchange greetings.