Pongal Festival is a grand 3-Day celebration affair in the agricultural heartland of Southern India. It is the festival of thanksgiving to the Sun god and paying tribute to the buffaloes.
“Pongal” – A Tamil word loosely translated into English meant “Boiling” or “Harvest.” Pongal Festival meant “Harvest” or “Boiling of Rice” Festival. It is a joyous occasion celebrated yearly in India exceeding even the importance of Deepavali.
Having sweat and toil on the padi fields, the crop yield is due and the rewards are reaped not forgetting to acknowledge the Sun god and all the buffaloes for making it a successful bountiful harvest. Buffaloes assist in the ploughing of the padi fields working consistently and tirelessly. Of course the Sun god also dispenses blessings to the humble grateful farmers.
In Southern India, Pongal Festival serves as a rally point for all the members of the community. It is common bonding spanning over the 3-day celebration. Food and drinks fully embellished with songs and dances are in full swing. It reminds one of the typical Bollywood hype of endless songs and dances of scenic countryside carefree and blissful indulgence.
Since it is a religious festival offering thanks to the Sun god, Hindu priests are engaged to conduct the ceremony. The priests shall consult the oracles based on the Indian calendar and the alignment of the stars to pinpoint the auspicious astrological timing. Large amount of rice is then set to boil till it overflows to signify fertile abundance and plentiful for the coming harvests. Prayers are conducted in elaborate rituals with much fanfare and music blaring all day long.
Buffaloes are decorated and honored for their hard work in rendering a successful padi harvest. For without those beasts of burden bearing the yoke of labour, the padi cultivation may not be possible. Buffaloes and cows are never slaughtered by Hindus. They are part of the extended family.
The above information was related to me by my Indian colleagues. I was much impressed and enchanted by such an interesting event. Even in Singapore, it is also celebrated in “Little India” with much pomp and opulence also lasting 3 days by the “Little India Shoppers’ Association”.
Hwi Yoh Community Centre at Serangoon North Ave 4 within Ang Mo Kio GRC also tries to emulate. It should be a commendable effort in community bonding with our Indian compatriots but instead it turns out to be disastrous fiasco!
You see “The Pongal Festival” is supposed to be celebrated in the Indian calendar of the “Thai” month which coincided within the month of Jan. Ideally it should be on the 15th of Jan or thereabouts.
However, Hwi Yoh CC of AMK GRC is planning the celebration on 19th Feb which falls on the “Maasi” month of the Indian calendar. It is completely out of sync or range since it must be held within the “Thai” – not “Maasi” month of the Indian calendar.
Those committee members must be either daft or ignorant of such an important festival which even surpasses that of “Deepavali”. Although Pongal Festival unlike Deepavali is not a public holiday in Singapore, it should not be treated tardily without adhering to its accepted norms and practice.
My Indian friends and colleagues are up in arms! (figuratively speaking lah) They rant and grumble about the lack of sensibility and callous attitude. Might as well don’t organize it if they are not sincere at all. What the heck? They are organizing it after the actual time frame or window period. How would you feel if they organize a Christmas party in the month of Jan instead of Dec?
My irate Indian colleagues even decided to post it on facebook to protest and register their unhappiness at their lackadaisical attitude on the event organized by Hwi Yoh CC.
Incidentally the VIP gracing the Pongal Festival event is the MP Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar. If the MP is not aware of Indian culture or customs, then those Indians planning the event is duty bound to advise her accordingly. Or is it that those Indians in the planning committee are trying to accommodate the MP’s busy schedule? The willful disregard of the practices and customs of the Pongal Festival’s spirit to suit the VIP’s calendar?
If that is the case, please do not call it the Pongal Festival since it is not celebrated according to its significance and raison d’être! Call it something else so as not to make it a laughing stock and cast it in bad light.
I was told that this is not the only incident. On previous years, the same also happened at Hwi Yoh CC under AMK GRC. Is it also repeated in other constituencies one wonders?
Those “Baduah” really make me puke!
Really Langgar the Tiang dah!