Singapore, Jan 16: Tamil community in Singapore has begun a week-long Pongal celebrations aimed at imparting the culture and tradition to the younger generation and sharing the festival with non-Indian communities in the country.
Unlike India where Pongal is a harvest festival, Singapore celebrates it as a "thanks giving" occasion to promote a wide range of cultural activities, Chairman of the Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association (LISHA) Rajakumar Chandra said, who is also the main organiser of the celebrations.
Pupils and students from schools across the island will learn about Indian cultures from various sessions planned during the week-long celebrations being held in the Little India precinct.
It is an opportunity for "...younger generation to know about the Pongal celebration with cultural events. It is a learning journey for them," Rajakumar told PTI while stressing on the need to keep promoting Indian cultures within the multi-racial society in Singapore.
"If you don't bring them in, the (Indian) tradition may fade away," he said. Rajakumar leads over 700 businesses, restaurants and hotel operators in the precinct in celebrating all Indian cultural and traditional festivals as part of community services.
The celebration is also to share the Indian community's prosperity with non-Indian fellow Singaporeans as well as less-fortunate and community elders. More than 200,000 visitors are expected to attend the events.
Pongal, or boiling of milk with rice to signify abundance with prosperity, was prepared and shared with the visitors and students at yesterday's opening of the musical gala event which had a mini-farm set up with cows and calves brought in from a handful of local animal farms here and show-cased at the venue within the precinct. Singapore's 500,000 Indian community has been celebrating colourful Lohri and Makar Sankranti at various venues across the city-state this week.
Pongal is the bigger scale event at Little India which has been decorated with colourful street lightings and buntings this week. These Indian festival celebrations and events go back to the 1950s-60s. Pongal is a four-days-long harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu.
This festival of thanksgiving to nature is held in the month of January-February during the season when rice and other cereals like sugarcane and turmeric are harvested.