• 14. January 2017

Thai Pongal celebration in Sri Lanka

Today I enjoyed a great day, celebrating the festival Thai Pongal! Our whole family was active,we met friends
and neighbours on the streets and from the temple close by the sound of spiritual music came over all morning.

The festival Thai Pongal is one of the most important celebrations in the Tamil culture.
It is held in honor to the sun „Suriyan“, to thank for a good harvest and give respect to the
nature and mainly „Indran“ the king of the sky and god of rain.

Thai Pongal vessel in front of Kali temple

Thai Pongal vessel in front of Kali temple

Earlier it used to be a tradition among the farmers only. The word Pongal means “overflowing,”
standing for abundance and Thai is the Tamil word for the month January. The festival takes place on
January 14th or January 15th. At this day a “Pongal” will be prepared and offered to the sun – a sweet milky rice
including many ingredients.

The day of Thai Pongal is enjoyed by the whole family and many preparations are being done. Early morning
before sunrise, after bathing everyone will get dressed, wearing new clothing. The family will draw a colourful kolam
(decorative pattern on the floor, made of coloured rice flour or sand) in the entrance area in front of their
house, as a welcome symbol.

Welcome Kolam for Thai Pongal

Welcome Kolam for Thai Pongal

Then the preparation of the pongal starts.
A big claypot or vessel will be decorated with banana leaves and put on a wooden fireplace outside the house,
facing east to the sunrise. Milk, rice and gram will be cooked and many ingredients like cashew nuts, date
fruits, coconut milk, raisins, cardamon, cinnamon, ghee and jaggery are added. The milky rice will be cooked
until reaching the point of overboiling – the highlight is reached when the milk is spilling over the vessel.
Preferably this will happen around the time of the sunrise and many are also lightning firecrackers to
celebrate that moment.

Vessel for Thai Pongal with milky rice.

Vessel for Thai Pongal with milky rice.

Thai Pongal offer table to the sun.

Thai Pongal offer table to the sun.

Now the tasty sweet Pongal is served on banana leaves and shared among the family, friends and neighbours!
Most people will also go to  the temple and join the puja for this special day – wearing traditional clothes
like a Saree for the women and a Dhoti for the male.

Visiting the temple for the Pongal puja.

Visiting the temple for the Pongal puja.

 

 

 

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