THE annual harvest festival of Ponggal will be upon us on Jan 15.
Malaysian Hindu Sangam president Datuk R.S. Mohan Shan said Ponggal, which is celebrated on the first day of the Thai month based on the panjangam (almanac), would fall on Tuesday.
“Usually, the day falls on Jan 14 but in some years, it is a day later.
“It is a cultural festival where even churches have Ponggal celebrations.
“It involves cooking sweet rice, also called ponggal, where the overflowing boiled milk signifies abundance. It is to show gratitude to the sun for a good harvest.
“Crops like sugarcane and turmeric are often used to decorate the cooking area and a new claypot is used to make the rice.
“Auspicious times to make ponggal (rice) this year is from 7.30am to 10.25am and 6pm to 7.25pm,” said Mohan Shan.
He added that Ponggal was celebrated over four days, starting with cleaning the house and getting rid of unwanted items a day earlier.
“Traditionally, the unwanted items are burned but it is not appropriate to do so nowadays. The act symbolises getting rid of bad habits, vices and attachments. Kolam are also drawn to decorate the home.
“The first day is called the Surya (sun) Ponggal. The second day is called the Mattu (cow) Ponggal,
celebrated by farmers and milkmen to show gratitude to cows for helping in the fields and providing milk.“The third day is Kanni (unmarried women) Ponggal, celebrated by womenfolk.
“In India, it is observed on a grand scale and is a way for the people to get to know single women seeking marriage,” he explained.
Although Ponggal is a cultural event, Mohan Shan hopes people will respect the religious elements associated with the festival.
“People are intrigued by our culture and want to be part of it, so I hope those who observe Ponggal will follow rituals like taking off their footwear before participating,” he said.