Residents of Chennai told PTI that early on Thursday, the smog was mild and some areas briefly witnessed drizzle as well.

Vehicles travelling down a smog-enveloped road in ChennaiTwitter: Loganathan V
news Environment Thursday, January 13, 2022 - 16:41

The 'Bhogi' festival on the eve of the harvest festival Pongal was celebrated across Tamil Nadu on Thursday, January 13, with the traditional bonfires leading to mild smog for a while in some areas here. Flight operations in Chennai were unaffected, airport sources said, adding the presence of fog and smog was mild to moderate and it lasted only for a while. Residents of the city also said that early on Thursday, the smog was mild and some areas briefly witnessed drizzle as well.

In keeping with the tradition, people lit bonfires and youngsters beat drums early in the morning in front of their houses for the Bhogi festival. The celebrations signify fresh aspirations and a new beginning on the eve of Pongal and the start of Tamil month, 'Thai', on the day of the harvest festival.

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 Deepavali' event associated with farming communities in olden times, Ramachandran said.

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The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, 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.

Earlier, Chennai airport officials had also appealed to the public not to burn polluting substances on the occasion of Bhogi, as it would affect flights arriving at and departing from the airport. 

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