Ponggal rush in Little India ahead of latest MCO

S. Chandran (right) carrying sugarcane that he bought from Anbukarasan (wearing cap) at Little India. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

WITH Ponggal taking place tomorrow, Little India in Penang was bustling with customers rushing to buy sugarcane and claypots to celebrate at home.

Trader Tamilarsi Subramaniam was busy trying to sell all the 2,000 sugarcane stalks and 500 claypots in her shop before the latest movement control order came into effect.

“We will first sell to walk-in customers. Then we will put the balance of items in lorries and go around housing areas in George Town to sell off at low prices, ” said Tamilarsi at her shop in China Street.

This is the first time Tamilarsi, who has been selling her sugarcane for Ponggal at the junction of China Street and Penang Street for six years, is operating from a shop.

Housewife Durgadevi Balakrishinan, 30, who was at the shop, said she would celebrate Ponggal at home with her two-year-old daughter as her husband was working in Singapore.

“Due to the MCO, I will not go to the temple or visit my siblings to mark Ponggal. I will conduct prayers at home to welcome the first day of the harvest festival.

“It is an auspicious day when farmers show their gratitude to God after a bountiful harvest, ” added Durgadevi.

P. Valli (left) and her daughter C. Mahalakshmi choosing a  claypot at a shop.P. Valli (left) and her daughter C. Mahalakshmi choosing a claypot at a shop.

Devanathan Gopal, 52, who was seen loading a bunch of sugarcane into his van in Little India, will also be having a quiet celebration at home.

“I never fail to celebrate Ponggal but this year’s celebration is going to be a quiet one for me with just my wife and two children, ” said Devanathan, who works at a private utility company.

Trader Anbukarasan Moroter, who ordered 400 sugarcane stalks for his customers, was bent on selling them all off by yesterday evening.

“Most of my customers are coming in today due to the MCO, unlike other years when they will come only on the eve of Ponggal, ” said Anbukarasan, who was selling his sugarcane at the junction of Penang Street and Market Street.

People seen buying sugarcane stalks to  celebrate Ponggal.People seen buying sugarcane stalks to celebrate Ponggal.

Kaliammal Kathirasen, 35, was with her sister buying Ponggal pots at a shop in King Street.

She said there was not much excitement for Ponggal this year due to the gloom cast by the pandemic.

“Ponggal and Thaipusam festivals are usually big celebrations for us. There are 15 of us including our siblings and their children, ” she said.

“However, this year, we have to make do with low-key prayers at home.

“I hope everything will be back to normal next year as Ponggal is the first celebration for Indians every year and we believe

celebrating it will bring a lot of blessings throughout the year.”

Ponggal, meaning ‘to boil over’ in Tamil, is celebrated from the last day of the Tamil month of Margazhi (Dec-Jan) to the third day of the Thai month (Jan-Feb).

Farmers in India celebrate it on the first day to represent the first harvest of the year.

The second day is known as Mattu Ponggal and is devoted to cows, regarded as sacred animals.

Young women are celebrated on the third day known as Kanni Ponggal.

It is also celebrated as a form of thanksgiving for an abundant harvest.

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