Pongal Festival Hindu Thanksgiving

Pongal Festival

Every year, the Tamil harvest festival, Pongal, is celebrated in January.  It is a four day festival that dates back over a millenium.  There are celebrations going on throughout Malaysia for Indians.  This year, it is scheduled for 14-17 January.

Penang has one of the best places to experience Pongal festival.  It is at the Sri Veera Kaliamman Devasthanam Temple. The temple is located in Gelugor, Penang.  The temple has been the focal point of Pongal festival in Malaysia since 1975.  Another place to go is the Sri Mahamariamman Temple on Queen Street in George Town.  This is the oldest Hindu Temple in Malaysia.

The word pongal in Tamil means “to boil” or to “to boil over”.  The timing of the festival is to coincide with the harvest for rice and other cereals, sugar-cane, and turmeric (an essential ingredient in Tamil cooking).  This begins the traditional month for large expensive family celebrations like weddings.

The Pongal Festival continues to be an important part of Malaysian Indian culture.  It keeps them connected to their South Indian roots and traditions.

In Hindu temples bells, drums, clarinets and conch shells sound out to mark the joyous festivities of Pongal. Sweet rice is cooked with fresh milk  in new clay pots until they boil over. This symbolizes an abundant harvest and prosperity.  Some of the rituals performed in the temple include the preparation of rice, the chanting of prayers and the offering of vegetables, sugar cane and spices to the gods.

The Pongal Festival is a time for Tamil families to get together, time for reunions.  Old grudges have to be forgiven and forgotten.  Reconciliation is supposed to rule the day.  Love and Peace are the central themes of Pongal.

Have you been to the Pongal Festival?  Please share your experiences below or on the Facebook page.