Ponggal festival marks a new dawn for Tamil community

Ponggal falls in the 10th month of the Tamil calendar called Thai and is a major celebration, especially for the farming community. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Ponggal falls in the 10th month of the Tamil calendar called Thai and is a major celebration, especially for the farming community. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — The Tamil community is looking forward to ushering in a new dawn as it celebrates the Ponggal harvest festival tomorrow.

Ponggal falls in the 10th month of the Tamil calendar called Thai and is a major celebration, especially for the farming community.

Thai piranthal vazhi pirakkum is a popular Tamil adage which simply means that the advent of the month of Thai brings new opportunities.

On this day, the Tamil community will prepare the Ponggal (sweet rice) and offer thanksgiving prayers to Surya Bhagavan (the Sun God), the earth and the cow.

This year, the auspicious times to prepare the sweet rice are between 7.30 am and 8.55am; 10.30am and 11.55am or 5 pm and 8 pm, said Malaysia Hindu Sangam president Datuk R. S. Mohan Shan.

He told Bernama the festival starts on Jan 14 with Bhogi, a ceremonial bonfire ritual during which the people discard old and derelict household items and clean the house to usher in a transformation and the beginning of a new cycle.

“On Ponggal day, better known as Thai Ponggal, rice is cooked with milk and brown sugar in a new pot at sunrise or an auspicious time, until the milk boils over, and special prayers are performed for the Sun God,” he said.

Mohan explained that people let out cheers of Ponggalo Ponggal when the rice boils and overflows from the pot, signifying abundance and prosperity.

As part of the ritual, turmeric plants are tied around the pot.

The people decorate their houses with mango leaves and colourful kolam patterns made of rice flour. Sugarcane is a must for the celebration.

“The day after Thai Ponggal is Mattu Pongal which is dedicated to cows. On this day, cows are cleaned, decorated and garlanded,” said Mohan.

On the third day of the Ponggal celebration, known as Kanni Ponggal, young ladies pray for a good life and a great husband.

Mohan urged all Malaysian Indians to wear traditional costumes when observing Ponggal and to invite people from the other races to join in the celebration.

Meanwhile, Little India in Jalan Tengku Kelana, Klang, and Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur saw large crowds of Indians making last-minute purchases of clay pots, sugarcane, milk and turmeric bunches to celebrate the festival.

Milk vendor Cinthaman Ponnusamy, 49, approached in Jalan Tengku Kelana, said he anticipates a huge demand for the commodity and has made arrangements to bring in additional fresh cow’s milk to sell until late today.

“We received orders since last week and are receiving more,” he said with a smile. — Bernama

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