Pots full of sweet hope as Tamils celebrate Ponggal

Festival necessities: Customer Kanitha Kasayan, 34, (centre) buying sugarcane for Ponggal, assisted by provision shop owner Samy N. Nadarajan (right) and Poopathi Rajendran at Lorong Tingkat in Little India, Klang. — SS KANESAN/The Star

FOR businesswoman R. Devi Kanyaa Kumari, the Tamil harvest festival of Ponggal brings back childhood memories of waiting anxiously for a claypot of milk to boil over.

“When the milk boiled and overflowed, my sibling and I would shout ‘ponggal, oh ponggal!’.“This was after we were coaxed to do so by our parents.

“They said it would invite bountiful blessings into our home.

“We had fun putting in the rice, chakkarai (brown sugar) raisins, milk, ghee and cardamom as my mother stirred the earthenware pot,” she recounted.

Devi Kanyaa said that at the age of five, she did not understand the true meaning of Ponggal and only looked forward to eating the sweet rice which was made with the boiled milk.

“Ponggal is a beautiful celebration as it is all about gratitude,” she said when met outside a provision shop at Lorong Tingkat in Klang’s Little India.

Usually Tamils will pray to overcome obstacles.

“We also offer prayers for strength, courage, happiness and hope,” she said.

Beautiful blooms: People buying flowers for Ponggal in Little India.Beautiful blooms: People buying flowers for Ponggal in Little India.

Ponggal is celebrated across the world today to mark the auspicious month of Thai in the Tamil calendar.It is also a thanksgiving festival marking the start of spring and the first harvest.

Tamils will pray for a bountiful harvest and mark the day by boiling fresh milk to make sweet rice.

On the second day of Ponggal, called mattu ponggal, cows are blessed and given a day’s rest as a gesture of appreciation for the animals.

The third day, called kanni ponggal, will see single women perform rituals in the hope of getting a good husband.

Preparations for Ponggal were evident in Klang’s Little India yesterday when StarMetro visited the area.

Sugarcane stalks, banana trees and mango leaves could be seen outside shops in the vicinity.

Typically, households would wash the front porch and draw kolam with rice flour to mark the occasion.

Sri Sundararaja Perumal Temple chief priest Balaji Kannan Pattar said Tamils should make it a point to celebrate festivals like Ponggal to preserve their rich culture.

“The almanac speaks of suba kiruthu which means good things will happen from now on. It will be a better time for all,” he added.

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