KUALA LUMPUR – The Tamil community in Malaysia today celebrated ‘Ponggal’, a harvest festival that expresses gratitude to God, the sun, the earth and the milk-bearing cow.
Malaysia Hindu Sangam president Datuk R. S. Mohan Shan said Ponggal was celebrated in January (14 or 15), coinciding with ‘Thai’, the 10th month in the Tamil calendar, and following the harvest season in India.
He said the Tamil community prepared the Ponggal (sweet) rice to be offered to the Sun God.
“The Tamil community believes that the advent of the month of Thai brings with it good luck and a new ray of hope, and I hope that the community will exercise more thrift for a more comfortable year,” he told Bernama.
Mohan Shan explained that the celebration would begin with the ‘Bhogi’ a day earlier when everything old was burnt, along with negative thoughts.
The following day, the community would cook rice and milk with brown sugar in a new earthen pot until the milk overflows, to indicate abundance, and offer this to the Sun God, he said.
“The second day of the celebration, called Maattu Ponggal, is dedicated to the cow, which is held in high esteem by Hindus, while the third day of ‘Kanni Ponggal’ is celebrated specially by unmarried girls in the hope of getting a good husband,” he added.
It is the norm for all members of the family to gather around the pot of cooking rice, milk and brown sugar to watch the milk overflow.
Several Tamil students of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) who were unable to join their families for the Ponggal celebration at their homes were contended with celebrating the festival with friends at the campus.
One of them, Saravanan Subramaniam, 21, said he and his friends had to celebrate the festival at the campus as they had to sit for the semester final examinations.
“At home, our parents would make all the preparations. However, at the campus, we had to do everything,” he told Bernama.
Sutha Muniandy, 25, was celebrating the festival for the fifth year running at the campus.
“It does not matter where we celebrate the festival so long as we maintain our tradition and customs,” Sutha said.
A check by Bernama showed that almost every shop entrance in Little India, Brickfields, here, and in Jalan Tengku Kelana, Klang, was decorated with sugar cane stalks and the ‘kolam’ made of rice flour.
Several shops offered various promotions in conjunction with the festival and played Tamil music from early morning.
Many members of the Tamil community took the opportunity to visit temples to attend the special prayers. – BERNAMA