Many facets of Thai Pongal: Pongal as Tamils’ Passover

January 9, 2015 3:31 AM3 commentsViews: 58

Upholding tradition and heritage, Tamils observe Thai Pongal with festivities on January 14/15 across the globe


Many facets of Thai Pongal:

Among other things, Thai pongal has long become a festival marking or taking gauge of prosperous sentiments in the lands of our roots, as one aspiring to be a farmer declined over a generation or two ago, the time of the year Thai Pongal falls and the traditions associated with its celebration make it an ideal time to take stock of sentiments.

One key aspect of it is that how important “Pongal Santhai” (Pongal market) became when markets in the Jaffna peninsula used to convene on alternate days etc. When the market convened for the final time before Jan 14th, the crowds and spending habits would be the gauges on how well other sectors and the general spirit of the people would be too.

They all depended on a bountiful harvest. However small it may be, this aspect of our root still exists.

Celebrating own heritage amid many cultures:

Several festivals such as Hanukkah and Kwanzaa etc gained added significance in their respective diaspora communities to fulfill the calendar of holiday time with one’s own heritage. Celebrating the charming Tamil Thanksgiving Festival in January, just after the holiday season of December adds more glitter to Pongal fanfare.

Thai Pongal’s significance in Home away from Home albeit in light of leading non-agrarian life styles:

In terms of Thai Pongal’s “irrelevance” – that may also become a new reason to “celebrate” it. This one festival of Tamils can be said that is causing it to be not celebrated in the same way as our ancestors did, particularly its outdoor events and then also it falls in the colder months in new home away from home, wherein the most Tamil “exodus” have taken place. Yet, Tamils in the diaspora have a new-found “freedom” and acceptance to continue and celebrate their traditions.

In that sense it can become our own “Passover”; like the festival that signifies and, “Celebrates the Exodus, the freedom from slavery of the Children of Israel from ancient Egypt that followed the Ten Plagues.”

Monsoon Journal joins in the celebrations, Wishing “Happy Thai Pongal” and a “Bountiful” year of health and wealth ahead.

Contributed by: By Thiru K. Thirukumaran

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