For Aadhi, Pongal has always been a festival that he celebrates in its full glory. The harvest festival, for the actor, is all about reflecting on his roots, being with his family and celebrating it in its traditional form. “Pongal/Sankranthi is celebrated in a big way in my village near Guntur. For me, it’s more of a get-together, where our entire family lands in our village for the big celebration. Those four-five days in our village are the best memories I have of the festival,” begins Aadhi.
From sleeping on the terrace to fishing in the ponds nearby, Aadhi says he has a blast with his family. “There will be way too many people on those days and we would all head to the terrace to sleep. Even though it’s a task waking up early on regular days, we’re up by 3.30am on Bhogi. At my place, they make an instrument with leather during this time of the year and we would play them during the day,” he reminisces, adding, “On the day of Pongal, we first perform a ritual for our ancestors. This is followed by a pooja at home, and then, for our crops. My thaatha was the head of the village. Our house is in a beautiful spot, with a pond nearby. I also drive our tractor around when I am there… I always have a good in my village.”
Maattu Pongal is celebrated in a big way in his hometown. “We have made ornaments for cows. I haven’t seen that much jewellery in my life. But they are too cute… brass necklaces, anklets and more. We deck up our cows for Maattu Pongal and perform pooja for them,” says Aadhi.
Pongal is also an excuse for Aadhi to gorge on delicacies. “I love the athirasam my paati makes. The aroma of ghee simply wafts through the entire house. I also like the sweet samos or karjikai that my mother prepares,” he says.
“As much as I like sweets, they tend to get a little too much after a while. But that is not the case with sugarcanes. My brother and I literally compete with each other when it comes to eating sugarcanes. We spread a paper below us to drop the leftovers of the sugarcane and figure out who’s had the most by looking at the mountain of waste,” he laughs, adding, “My Pongal celebrations have always been rooted in tradition. I connect more when I celebrate the festival in its traditional form.”
But none of his Pongal celebrations are complete without movies. “Pongal means new releases. Both are inseparable for me. After completing the rituals at home, we head to the theatre to watch films. There have been times when I’ve watched three movies straight, woke up the next day, and caught the other releases. I remember watching Veeram during Pongal. I make sure I catch Ajith or Vijay sir’s film in a theatre with their fans – there is so much energy,” he says.
While he won’t be visiting his village this year, Aadhi says it will be a home celebration. “After the puja, I am heading to the theatre to watch both the Pongal releases,” he says, and adds, “I won’t think twice before going to theatres. I will mask up, take precautions, but enjoy the film in the theatre.”
Aadhi, who just wrapped up the Tamil-Telugu bilingual Clap, Partner in Tamil, Good Luck Sakhi in Telugu and another Telugu film with Susienthiran, says that the pandemic has taught him a lot of life lessons. Giving a word of advice to people heading to the theatre, Aadhi says, “Festival or not, COVID-19 has taught us good lessons. It created a lot of awareness about the environment. We all know by now how we should protect ourselves. You can still enjoy the movies, but be safe and ensure others are safe around you. Let’s enjoy, but let’s stay safe during this festival.”