Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pongal harvest festival event

Ipoh Barat DAP celebrated Pongal harvest festival on Sunday at 2.30 pm at the Tawas Hall, Kg.Tawas.
It was well attended by over 500 people.

The contents of my speech are as follows:

Pongal is a four-days-long harvest festival is celebrated by the Indians in India and in many parts of the world. Tamil people living abroad follow their cultural values during this festival.

Pongal is one of the most important popular Hindu festivals of the year. Pongal is an ancient festival of people in South India particularly Tamils. The history of the festival can be traced back to the Sangam Age i.e. 200 B.C. To 300 A.D.

Some legendary stories are also associated with Pongal festival celebrations. The two most popular legends of Pongal are stories related to Lord Shiva and Lord Indra.

In fact, four festivals are celebrated in Tamil Nadu for four consecutive days in that week. 'Bogi' is celebrated on January 13, 'Pongal' on Jan 14, 'Maattuppongal' on Jan 15, and 'Thiruvalluvar Day' on Jan 16.

A festival called Jalli kathu is held in Madurai, Tiruchirapalli and Tanjavur,all in Tamil Nadu, on this day. Bundles of money are tied to the horns of Pongal ferocious bulls which the villagers try to retrieve.

The first day of Pongal known as 'Bhogi Pongal' is a day for family gathering and is dedicated to Lord Indra. The houses are then cleaned till they shine and are decorated with Kolams painted using rice flour.

The second day of Pongal known as 'Surya Pongal' is dedicated to the Sun God.

The third day known as 'Mattu Pongal' is dedicated to the cattle as cowherds and shepherds pay thanks to their cows and bulls, paint their horns and cover them with shining metal caps.

The fourth day is termed as Kaanum Pongal. On this day, people travel to see other family members. On this day, the younger members of the family pay homage to the elders, and the elders thank them by giving token money. Another thing many do is leave food out on banana leaves for birds to take. Many South Indian people will take the first bit of rice cooked in any given day and set it outside for the crows to take, so this is not necessarily a habit only for Pongal.

This Kaanum Pongal is misinterpretated as Kanni Pongal. Kaanum means 'what you see.' Kanni means girls who are still unmarried. Therefore this Kaanum Pongal must not be altered to Kanni Pongal.

Nowadays, Pongal has become a vibrant festival with a global presence. At the moment there are seventy million Tamils spread in over fifty countries of the world. 80 percent of them celebrate Pongal.

The early settlement patterns of the Tamils could be traced to the sugar cane plantations of Mauritius, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname in South America and plantations in Malaysia.

Due to the large number of Tamils residing in the various countries of South East Asia, Pongal is extremely popular festival in these places.

Indonesia has about 2,000 to 10,000 Tamils,
Singapore has about 200,000 Tamils
Malaysia has a 1,060,000 Tamil population
Myanmar (previously Burma) had a Tamil population of 200,000 at a peak time. After Second World War the number has been reduced to a mere few thousands.
Thailand has 10,000 tamils
Even in China there is a population of 5,000 celebrating Pongal.
Cambodia has less than 1,000

We must emphasise on the fact that in Malaysia there are one million Tamils who celebrate Ponggal. In other countries the figure stands only in a few thousands. We must keep the Malaysian figure remained. Malaysian Indians must be united to safeguard their religious traditions like Ponggal.

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