This quick guide will tell you everything you need to know about Pongal...
Just like Thaipusam and Deepavali, Pongal is a popular festival celebrated by Hindus in Singapore. This is when Little India comes to life with activities to commemorate the harvest festival. If you’ve no clue what we’re talking about, fret not; we’ve put together a helpful guide to give you a quick understanding of the vibrant festivities.
What is Pongal?
Pongal means “to boil” in Tamil and it is celebrated widely in South India over four days. It’s the time when farmers give thanks to the Sun God, Surya, for their bountiful harvest. While Singapore isn’t exactly rolling in farms, the festival also marks the start of the auspicious month in the Tamil calendar, Thai.
How do people celebrate?
This four-day festival starts with Bhogi Pongal, which is when Hindus will tidy their homes, tossing out unwanted things in a metaphorical nod to a fresh start. In the villages, cows are revered with painted horns and prayers are offered to Indra, the God of lightning, thunder, rains and river flows.
It’s followed by Surya Pongal, when Hindu devotees pay their respect to the Sun God by boiling a pot of rice and milk at the crack of dawn. Remember the meaning of Pongal? Here, the rice and milk have to overflow as the act symbolises prosperity and good fortune. It’s also common to light up oil lamps and decorate the floors with coloured rice flour, aka kolam.
The third day pays tribute to the cows for their hard work. Last year, Little India had an animal parade where cattle were adorned with flowers and red turmeric powder. This year, the Indian Heritage Centre will be doing a farm tour in Kranji for a more immersive experience.
Finally, Kannum Pongal marks the end of the festivities. With a focus on strengthening ties between loved ones and the community, families will host reunions, children will get blessings from their elders and many will visit the temple on this special day.
This year, Campbell Lane will be transformed into a mini village (11 and 18 Jan), where you can get a glimmer of how Pongal is celebrated in India. Look out for Pongal cooking and pottery demos, harvesting workshops, cultural performances and more!