GEORGE TOWN: The shortage of sand has led to pricier clay pots for those celebrating Ponggal (harvest festival) on Tuesday.
Devaraj Pottery owner D. Prabhu, a fifth generation clay pot maker in Parit Buntar, said there would be a 20% price increase as he had to bring in the sand from Ipoh, Perak.
“We were hit by a shortage of sand, a major raw material for making clay pots.
“We have no choice but to increase the price due to the additional cost of getting sand.
“Many retailers also reduced their orders by about 30% this year,” he said, adding that his company could produce 600 clay pots a day with two furnaces.
During the celebration, devotees will watch attentively the boiling of rice with milk in several clay pots over firewood.
Once the boiling concoction spills over, cheers of Ponggalo Ponggal (overflowing abundance) will be expressed as they usher in the auspicious moment.
Mathavon Stores in Little India, Penang, is selling a big pot at RM20.90 (can cook 5kg of rice) while a small pot costs RM3.90 (2kg of rice).
Its owner K. Nadarajan said the selling price was 20% higher than last year, adding that they only stocked up 5,000 clay pots instead of 7,500 this year.
“We ordered fewer because people are cautious with their spending.
“The sale is slow.
“We expect more customers tomorrow (today) as the sugar cane will also be here by then,” he said.
Office administrator T. Sujatha, 42, said she would still celebrate the festival despite the price hike.
“I have made it a point to buy new pots for ponggal every year.
“I stay on the mainland but come here to get the pots. My mother insisted I buy the pots here as it has been the practice for years,” she said.
For K. Chithra, 40, ponggal means something “new” and she celebrates in a big way by getting new clothes and new clay pots.
“I bought pots in several sizes as I have two girls. All of us cook the glutinous rice at dawn on Ponggal day.
“My husband is an Indian national and ponggal is celebrated on a grander scale than Deepavali there.
“We want to have a good celebration with him here,” she said.
Ponggal, meaning “to boil over” in Tamil, is celebrated from the last day of the Tamil month of Margazhi (December-January) to the third day of the Thai month (January-February).
The first day is celebrated traditionally by farmers in India to represent the first harvest of the year while the second day of the celebration is known as Mattu Ponggal and is devoted to cows, which are 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.