Monday, January 14, 2013

Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum

It was in January when I last visited Malaysia. I was putting up at my best friend’s place who happens to be a Tamil. Cozy atmosphere, good food, refined conversations what could one ask for in a new country. Fortunately, my visit coincided with one of the most important festivals of Tamil- Pongal. 
Pongal is a harvest festival, similar to a thanksgiving event celebrated by Tamils across the world. Pongal in Tamil means “boiling over or spill over”. The main ritual of the festival is letting rice boil over with milk in a clay pot. This represents future prosperity for the family. Traditionally, Pongal is celebrated during harvest time, by thanking the sun god, rain and the farm animals that help them in the harvest. It was celebrated over a four day period.

My friend’s mom cleaned and decorated the entire house in the most beautiful way she could. The day began with the making of Kolams (ground patterns made out of rice flour) at the entrance of their house, as early as possible, in the morning. All the worn out stuffs are burnt on the first day which is known as Bhogi that signifies a new beginning. 

The following day known as Mattu Pongal or the Pongal of the cow is dedicated to the revered cow. The third day known as Kanni Ponggal is a day when women pray for men. The fourth and last day of the celebration is a day spent visiting relatives and friends. The spilling of milk in the earthen pot which is the most integral part of the celebration signifies prosperity, good luck and is a good sign for families. It was actually quite fascinating to witness such a sight and I could hear all my friend’s relatives shouting "Ponggalo Pongal" as soon as the rice boiled over and bubbles splashed out of the clay pot

It was really unexpected that inspite of residing in Malaysia, the festival didn’t lose its essence. They celebrated it in the same way as they would have in their hometown. Celebrating Pongal in Malaysia just got special with so much fun and excitement. The entire experience was quite a mesmerizing one. It was a perfect combination of celebration, belief and harmony. More so, thanks to my friend and her family, who helped me understand the basic nuances of the festival so well and really made me feel a special part of their celebration.

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