Pongal is a harvest festival – the Tamil equivalent of Thanksgiving. Having lived in Singapore my entire life, this is the first time I went to Little India to find out more about Pongal Festival after reading about it in the newspapers.
Pongal is the only festival of Hindu that follows a solar calendar and is celebrated on the fourteenth of January every year. Pongal signals the end of the traditional farming season, giving farmers a break from their monotonous routine. The festival is celebrated for four days.
When I arrived at Little India, the whole place is crowded with shoppers buying the necessities for the festival.
The most outstanding items are these colorful claypots. The word “Pongal” means “boiling over or spill-over”. Tamils will cook milk and rice in these claypots until the contents boil over. The boiling over of the contents symbolizes material abundance for a household.
At the same time, the Harvest festival also honors the hard work of cows and bulls that leads to a good harvest. Farmers will paint their horns and cover them with shining metal caps. The animals will also be given food such as bananas and have flower garlands draped around their necks.
In summary, this is a fun and colorful festival with lots of song and dance. It is good to see that traditions are still being kept alive through the generations although Singapore is no longer an agricultural society.