Happy Pongal! January 15, 2008Posted by elizabethwong in Current Affairs, Event, Malaysia, Race Relations.
Tags: Hindraf, Pongal, Tamils
Please take a moment to remember Udayakumar, his mates in Kamunting, Waytha in UK and their families on this festive day.
A short introduction to Pongal (below) is forwarded by Motes John, who also forwarded to me the lovely card.
Tamils refer to Pongal as “Tamizhar Thirunal” (meaning “the festival of Tamils”). The saying “Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum” meaning “the birth of the month of Thai will pave the way for new opportunities” often is quoted regarding the Pongal festival.
Usually, the festival takes place January 12 — 15 (on the Gregorian calendar). The festival is celebrated four days from the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi (December — January) to the third day of Thai (January — February).
The first day, Bhogi, is celebrated by throwing away and destroying old clothes and materials, by setting them on fire, marking the end of the old Thai and the emergence of the new Thai.
The second day, Pongal, is the main day, falling on the first day of the Tamil month Thai (January 14 — 15).
Also known as Sarkarai Pongal or Veetu Pongal, it is celebrated by boiling rice with fresh milk and jaggery in new pots, which are later topped with brown sugar, cashew nuts and raisins early in the morning and allowing it to boil over the vessel.
This tradition gives Pongal its name. The moment the rice boils over and bubbles out of the vessel, the tradition is to shout of “Ponggalo Ponggal!” and blowing the sangu (a conch), a custom practiced during the festival to announce it was going to be a year blessed with good tidings.
For Tamils, it is considered a good sign to watch it boil over, since it means that good luck and prosperity is forthcoming. Then New boiled rice is offered to the Nature during sunrise, a gesture which symbolises thanks to the sun and nature for providing prosperity.
The third day, Maattu Pongal, is for offering thanks to cattle, as they help farmer in different ways for agriculture.
During the final day, Kaanum Pongal (the word kaanum means “to view”) people visit beaches and theme parks.
They also chew sugar cane and decorate their houses with kolam. This day is a day to thank relatives and friends for their support in the harvest.
Although it started as a farmer’s festival, today it has become a national festival for all Tamils irrespective of their origins, caste or even religion.