The third day is mattu pongal which is the festival of cattle. To the village people cow, the giver of milk and the bull, which draws the plough in the fields, are very valuable and therefore the farmers honor their dumb friends by celebrating it as a day of thanks giving to them.
The cattle are washed; their horns are painted and covered with shining metal caps. Multi-colored beads, tinkling bells, sheaf's of corn and flower garlands are tied around their necks. They are fed with pongal and taken to the village centers.
The resounding of their bells attract the villagers as the young men race each other's cattle. The entire atmosphere becomes festive and full of fun and revelry.
Big commotion is seen when the game "Manji Virattu" starts in which groups of young men chase the running bulls.
A festival called Jallikattu is arranged in Madurai, Tiruchirapalli and Tanjavur on this day. Bundles of money are tied to the horns of ferocious bulls, which the villagers try to retrieve.
Everyone joins in the community meal, at which the food is made of the freshly harvested grain. This day is named and celebrated as Tamizhar Tirunal in a fitting manner throughout Tamil Nadu.
On the Mattu Pongal day Lord Ganesh and Goddess Parvati are worshipped and Pongal is offered to them in the `puja'. According to a legend, once Shiva asked his bull, Basava, to go to the earth and ask the mortals to have an oil massage and bath every day and to eat once a month.
Inadvertently, Basava announced that everyone should eat daily and have an oil bath once a month. This mistake enraged Shiva who then cursed Basava, banishing him to live on the earth forever. He would have to plough the fields and help people produce more food. Thus this day is associated with cattle.
This day is also known by the name of Kanu Pongal when colored balls of cooked rice are placed in the open air by girls for the birds and crows to eat. With each ball of rice that the sister makes she prays for her brother's happiness and the brothers and sisters wherever they may be remember each other.
Community dinners are also held when rich and poor, the landlord and the peasant, the old and the young, women and children all dine together forgetting the distinction of caste or class. All share in the spirit of bonhomie.