I took a trip into Little India, at the end of last week, to experience a small part of the Tamil Harvest Festival known as Pongal. Like that of the Harvest Festivals celebrated in the UK, which I enjoyed celebrating as a child, Pongal is a time to give thanks for a good harvest and to honour the cattle that have worked hard in the fields and provided the family with milk throughout the past year.
Pongal falls on the 14th or 15th of January each year, on what is the the Tamil month called Thai, in the 10th month of their calendar. Pongal itself is a sweet rice dish made from milk, rice and sugar prepared in an earthenware pot, it is allowed to boil and overflow to show the abundance of rice and milk. These cakes/sweets are distributed and also used as offerings, to the gods, giving thanks for the harvest.
Throughout the 4 day festival homes and doorways are decorated with Kolams, which are paintings. This "paint" is made from rice flour, although in Little India we saw many colourful transfers used instead of the traditional white "paint"
Pongal last for 4 days....
On the eve of the festival homes are spring cleaned and old unwanted belonging thrown away to make a new fresh start.
The sweet rice dish of pongal is cooked in the pot then offered to the gods as thanksgiving.
This day is used to honour the cattle. They have their horns painted and paint added to their skins. They are honoured with garlands of flowers and are given beads and bells to wear. They thank them for all their hard work in the fields, ploughing and providing milk.
This last day is when the younger generation pay respect to their elders.
Although much of the festivities and celebrations have now ended in Little India the festival lights along Serangoon road are still in place and will remain so until Feb 8th, so its still worth a visit.
|The cattle painted and decorated in the animal farm, part of the Cultural Village in Hastings road. Slightly sad that they couldn't move around very much, as they were tethered on short ropes.|
|A modern transfer kolam in the Cultural village in Hastings road and seen in many of the shop doorways.|
|A tradition kolam made from rice flour, already wearing away but I much prefer the traditional to the new transfers.|
|The colourful earthenware pongal pots|
|painted coconuts amongst the abundance of food in the Festival village in Campbell Lane|
|In the Cultural village an example of the making of the pongal. The young lady is having her hair tied back before she frantically fans the flames to get the pot to boil and overflow.|
|Elsewhere along Serangoon rd, the same place that had the traditional kolam, this woman is also encouraging the flames under her pongal pot.|