Hindu paddy farmers in Sekinchan look forward to Ponggal

‘Sarkkarai Pongga’ is a flavourful dish prepared with edible camphor, nutmeg, cloves and ealchi during the Ponggal festival at Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, January 14, 2018. — Picture by Safwan Zaidon
‘Sarkkarai Pongga’ is a flavourful dish prepared with edible camphor, nutmeg, cloves and ealchi during the Ponggal festival at Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, January 14, 2018. — Picture by Safwan Zaidon

TANJUNG KARANG, Jan 13 — The Ponggal festival which is a thanksgiving celebration for a bountiful harvest by paddy farmers is among the important celebrations of the Tamil community throughout the world.

Therefore, Hindu paddy farmers in Malaysia await with excitement to celebrate the festival on Tuesday following the process of harvesting paddy.

VR Arumugam, 68, who owns a paddy farm in Parit Empat in Sekinchan near here said the Ponggal festival is a much-awaited celebration by Hindu paddy farmers as it is especially for them.

“We celebrate Ponggal in conjunction with the end of the harvest season, where the harvest is dedicated to Suriya Bhagawan (the Sun God). The festival is also to signify thanksgiving for the harvest received,” he told Bernama.

He said the Ponggal celebration is further elaborated with the cooking of Ponggal rice, which is sweet rice cooked from the latest harvested paddy.

In conjunction with the celebration, each family will gather round a clay pot to look at the milk boiled and overflow with the belief the overflow milk signifies the happiness and prosperity in future harvest for the family.

“Paddy from the first harvest will be cooked with milk and brown sugar and a portion of the sweet rice would be offered to Suriya Bhagawan,” said Arumugam who has been a paddy farmer for 45 years on his inherited land.

Ponggal is celebrated in the 10th month of the Tamil calendar called “Thai Matham” in conjunction with the harvest month in India.

It is also the second festival to be widely celebrated by the Tamil community in the world after Deepavali, to offer thanksgiving to the god of sun, earth and cow which produces the milk.

For P. Ravichandran, 52, who is also a paddy farmer in Sekinchan said the Ponggal festival is a day for the Hindu community to commemorate the farmers or paddy growers who provide rice, a staple food of the Tamil community.

“We as paddy farmers celebrate Ponggal on a large scale with our house decked up for the occasion. We also tied a sugar cane plant at the front door so that the sweetness of sugar cane would bless our family.

“Meanwhile mango leaves are tied at the top of door for the wellbeing of the family while a colourful clay pot is bought to cook ponggal rice,” he said.

Ravichandran who has been working as a paddy farmer for 30 years said the harvest was getting better with the use of machines to harvest and plant paddy.

The Ponggal festival which began with Bhogi celebration on Monday, one day before Ponggal with a ceremony to burn old things to signify disposing of old bad thoughts.

Ponggal which is celebrated on three consecutive days, is known as Mattu Ponggal which is celebrated for cows on the second day.

The third day is known as Kanni Ponggal, is especially for unmarried ladies to pray for finding a good partner. — Bernama

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