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Pongal

 

A Good Harvest

The Pongal Festival, or Sankaranthi, is a harvest festival celebrated mostly in South India, where farming is the main livelihood. The Pongal Festival welcomes the beginning of the 10th Tamil month, called Thai, which falls in mid-January each year and a popular time for marriages. Pongal is also a period of thanksgiving to nature, lasting for four days. The word Pongal literally means to boil over and hence the pot of milk rice is allowed to boil over as a sign of prosperity.

The eve of Pongal, called Bhogi Pongal, is considered as the first day and is for spring cleaning and discarding old belongings to welcome a new beginning. Pongal celebration starts on the second day with the preparation of pongal - rice cooked with milk and red sugar in a new pot which is then offered to the Gods to seek their blessings. Relatives and friends visit each other and exchange greetings. The third day, called ‘Mattu Pongal’, is dedicated to honour the cattle as they provide the means for harvest, namely ploughing the fields as well as for the milk they provide. On this day the cattle are scrubbed, horns painted and they are adorned with multi-coloured beads, tinkling bells and flower garlands round their necks. The fourth day, called Kannum Pongal, is for the younger members to seek the blessing of the older members of their families.

On these days, Pongal rice is also prepared at all Hindu temples and special prayers are conducted. In Little India, a nine-day Pongal Festival is held where visitors can witness the significant rituals and customs such as honouring the cattle. A Mass Pongal cooking competition is held where various versions of pongal is displayed. During this joyous festival, Campbell Lane, in front of Serangoon Rood, is usually transformed into a pedestrian-only mini village. You can walk through the myriad of stalls and purchase unique souvenirs prevalent during this season. Cultural enthusiast can also experience the daily Pongal themed performances, colourful and vibrant, specially arranged for this season.

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