KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Hindus in the Klang Valley converged at the Batu Caves temple complex to celebrate Ponggal in a grand manner.
Organised by the temple complex committee, the event yesterday featured three large pots to cook the Ponggal rice in celebration of the harvest festival.
MIC president Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam officiated at the event by pouring the milk into the pot along with temple committee president Tan Sri R. Nadarajah.
Over 1,000 guests turned up in stages to witness the preparation of the Ponggal rice, which was later distributed to everyone.
Cultural songs and dance performances also kept the crowd entertained throughout the event.
In his speech, Dr Subramaniam urged the Hindus to follow in the footsteps of their ancestors in living harmoniously with nature.
“Ponggal is a celebration of nature, to thank the Sun and the Earth for the food they give us.
“Our ancestors recognised the need to love, respect and worship nature, and we should not let this practice be confined to the pages of history books.
“We should continue loving and respecting Mother Nature and her blessings to us, including the good food we are getting,” he said.
The Hindu community celebrates Ponggal in the month of Thai, the 10th month in the Hindu calendar.
On this day, devotees prepare the special dish of Ponggal, consisting of rice, dried fruits, nuts and other condiments, cooked with milk.
Meanwhile in GEORGE TOWN, Muslim-convert Zarina Abdullah has been celebrating Ponggal without fail at her home in Taman Gottlieb for the past 22 years.
Joined by her guests from various religions and beliefs, the 62-year-old housewife said the festival was a thanksgiving celebration to Mother Nature for a bountiful harvest.
“It is not a prayer but a culture to repay Mother Nature for the food and blessings we have.
“Although Ponggal is a day traditionally celebrated by padi farmers in India, I still observe the festival.
“I pray for good weather, and for places to be free from floods.
“I want to give thanks with a grateful heart, as I never take things for granted,” she said when met at her house yesterday.
Zarina, who is president of the Penang Tamil Artistes Association, said she woke up at 5am to prepare for the cooking of the Ponggal.
Among her guests were retirees Anita Jambu, in her 70s, and her husband Lawrence Barbosa, 85, who were not foreign to the celebration of Ponggal.
“The festivity is similarly observed in our church to give thanks for the bounty and blessing we received the previous years,” she said.
Similarly, devotees made a beeline to the Ganesha Temple at the foot of the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Hilltop Temple in Waterfall Road for the celebration.
Temple committee chairman R. Subramaniam said the celebration started at 7am with a 15-minute prayer, followed by the overflowing of the milk from the pots.
With rice cupped in the devotees’ palms, each of them then took turn to empty it into the boiling milk pot with brimming white froth.
They also added sugar and nuts into the pots.
Subramaniam said a kolam was drawn using rice flour, so that the ants could also be fed in the spirit of sharing.
Housewife P. Rajeswary, 48, started the day early by cleaning the temple at 5am with her family members.
“We used to do it at home. But for the past five years, I have been bringing my daughters to the temple as we believe it will bless us with good health and wealth,” she said.
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