United Kingdom

Thai Pongal : A New Beginning By Rashna Thivakaran Croydon High School

In January there is a big festival for many Tamils all over the world.We live in a multicultural country and it is important to appreciate the festivals and traditions of others.This is a time of celebration, a time of togetherness and a time of gratitude.This festival is known as Thai Pongal.

Thai Pongal, the start of the Tamil Heritage month, celebrates the Sun God, Lord Sureyan, giving thanks for the light provided during the day, the cows for providing us with dairy products and the bulls for their hard-work on farms.This year on January 14th the Prime Minister posted a video wishing all Tamils his “best wishes” for the weekend of celebrations and thanking them for their “hard-work”.But how is Thai Pongal celebrated in Sri Lanka?

I asked Mrs Thivija Thivakaran, a Wallington resident for 22 years, for her memories of events in the land of her birth.She told me that the day before there is a burning of all bad things, such as old clothes and broken items, in order to give way to a new positive beginning.In addition, rangoli patterns are created around the house as decorations.On Thai Pongal morning, having woken up before sunrise, people shower from head to toe as an offering of water to the Sun God before going outside where they light a fire.Milk is boiled in a clay pot on the fire until it overflows, a further offering for the Sun God as the sun rises.Mrs Thivakaran remembers that this is followed by boiling sugar and rice to make a sweet rice eaten as a blessing from the Sun God. “This was the best part of it” smiled Mrs Thivakaran.These activities are always followed by a visit to the temple, such an important part of life in the Tamil Hindu society. Mattu Pongal, the celebration of cows and bulls, involves washing the animals, boiling milk for them and adorning them with garlands. 

I don’t think we will be adorning cows here in the UK very soon but perhaps there will be some adaptations that will allow Tamils here to feel more connected to their homeland at such an important time.


Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button