Indians celebrate Ponggal - thanksgiving harvest festival

T.N. Alagesh

KUANTAN: The Indian community in the country will be celebrating the traditional harvest festival Ponggal tomorrow.

The rainy weather over the past few days has not dampened preparations for Ponggal, as the Indian premises along Jalan Bukit Ubi here are abuzz with activities.

Decorated clay pots, flowers, milk, sugar and sugar cane are among the essential items for the festival, which were high in high demand.

Some shops had arranged the items outside their shops, making it easier for people to select what they want without having to wait to be attended to by the shop assistants.

Sugar cane and bunches of mango leaves were selling like hot cakes.

Housewife A. Jayanthi, 44, was among those making last minute purchases for the four-day festival which ends on Jan 17.

The mother-of-three said due to last year's disappointment, she came early this time hoping to buy fresh sugar cane, coconuts and fruits.

"Last year, I purchased the items late in the evening and was forced to pay extra for sugar cane as it was in high demand.

"Today I managed to get most of the items at bargainable prices. Ponggal is one of the important celebrations in the Tamil calendar and the community gives equal importance similar to Tamil New Year and Deepavali," she said.

She added that she has to rush home to draw the "kolam", a colourful pattern drawn with rice flour on the floor to invite prosperity to the home.

Stall operator S. Muniandy, 57, said due to the wet weather, some people had placed earlier bookings for sugar cane and mango leaves.

"I told my customers that they would have to come to the stall today morning as there are some who are prepared to pay extra for the items," he said.

He added there were some who sold the sugarcane and mango leaves at a package price, which would be delivered straight to the doorstep.

Ponggal, which means "boiling over" in Tamil, refers to the overflowing of boiling milk to thank the Sun deity for a bountiful harvest and prosperity.

On the eve of Ponggal known as Bhogi, old items are discarded and burnt to cast away old ways of thinking and sins followed by Thai or Surya Ponggal the next day to appreciate for the blessings of the Sun deity.

The day after Surya Ponggal is called Maatu Ponggal, when one offers thanks to bulls for working the fields and cows for the milk they provide.

The fourth day, Kaani Ponggal, is when young unmarried women pray for a good husband and a happy life. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd