Getting in the Pongal buzz in Little India on first day of harvest festival


SINGAPORE – The rain did not dampen the spirit in Little India on Saturday (Jan 13) as crowds thronged the streets on the first day of Pongal.

Braving the crush at 1.30pm was Ms Rehka Govindasamy, 35, a civil servant, who came to shop for things like sugar cane, ginger root and turmeric with her husband Sivanason Thanendran, 37, who is in the Singapore Armed Forces. They brought along their children Akshaya, eight, and Akshana, four, who were experiencing Pongal only for the second time.

“My kids were born in the United States, so they are very unfamiliar with Pongal. So after shopping we took them to see the cows and the goats at the side of Little India Arcade, where I explained the significance of the festival,” said Ms Rehka, whose family returned to Singapore in 2016 after her husband completed his latest posting.

Pongal is a four-day harvest and thanksgiving festival that marks the start of spring, and is marked by the symbolic act of boiling rice and milk in a new clay pot till it overflows.

It is celebrated worldwide by Tamils and particularly in Tamil Nadu state and elsewhere in southern India. In Singapore, celebrations extend for over a month.

On Sunday, Ms Rehka’s family will wake up at about 5am to boil the rice, before preparing for a lunch feast with relatives.

“Even though we are not farmers in Singapore, it’s nice to get in touch with your roots and culture,” said Ms Rehka.

The Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association has planned a series of free events until Feb 4 in conjunction with the festival.

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