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Tuesday January 15, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Monday April 22, 2013 MYT 5:57:58 PM
by royce tan AND oh chin eng
HINDUS thronged various temples here to observe the annual Ponggal festival which marked the beginning of Thai, an auspicious month in the Hindu calendar.
Celebrated over three days, Ponggal is also known as the harvest or thanksgiving festival where devotees pay homage to God, the sun, the earth and cattle as gratitude for a bountiful harvest.
Devotees were seen thronging the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Queen Street yesterday morning, calling out ‘Ponggolo Ponggal!’ as the clay pot there containing rice, salt, milk, raisins, brown sugar and various nuts were boiled until it overflowed.
“The overflowing symbolises abundance, prosperity and a blessed year ahead,” said temple committee member R. Sarwaisveran, 60.
“Surya Ponggal is celebrated on the first day, where devotees pay homage to the sun god.
“The second day is known as Mattu Ponggal where devotees thank the cows and buffaloes, for their favour in ploughing the lands. The cattle will be given a clean bath and have their horns painted.”
The third day, Kannum Ponggal, is where relatives visit each other, and unmarried women pray for good husbands.
At the temple, devotees also offered sugar cane, vegetables and spices, and consumed them after that as a ritual to cleanse themselves of their sins.
Ponggal, which means “to boil” in Tamil, is celebrated from the last day of the month of Margazhi (December — January) to the third day of the month Thai (January — February).
Bhogi, celebrated on the eve of the Ponggal festival is where people decorate their homes, buy new pots and burn unwanted items.
Over in Waterfall Road, hundreds of Lord Ayappan devotees were seen carrying irumudi and walking towards the Lord Ayappan temple near the Arulmigu Balathandayu-thapani hilltop temple.
The Irumudi Patha Yathirai festival is held on Jan 14 every year and usually falls on the Ponggal festival.
One of the groups of devotees came from the Sri Ayappan Seva Samajam, comprising of about 250 people aged from as young as three, all the way to 70.
Clad in black vesti, barefooted and shirtless, the pilgrims led by their master, Shasta Srilasri Jagathguru Nyanasigaran Gurunathar, started their 12km journey at 6am from Sri Kamatchi Amman temple in Jalan Datuk Keramat.
On their heads, the carriers who are also known as Ayappan Samis, carried irumudi, cloth bundles containing sealed coconut filled with ghee and other prayer items.
They also made a stop at Arulmigu Sree Meenakshi Sundaraeswarar Temple in Waterfall Road to perform prayers and have their lunch before continuing the journey.
The spiritual centre’s secretary M. Damodaran, 49, said most of the pilgrims had undergone a two-month period of vegetarian diet for the religious event.
“Today is the day where we fulfilled our vows by carrying irumudi to the hilltop temple and our master will pray for our wellbeing, the society and the world.
“Some of these devotees came from as far as Kuala Lumpur,” he said.
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