Pongal is celebrated for thanking Nature for all the prosperity that she ushered upon us. Today, I took part in the Samathuva Pongal Celebrations held at the Sholinganallur Panchayat Office here in Chennai. It was by chance that I did. It is less than 200 metres from the apartment where I stay. I was passing by, saw the poster and crowd at the entrance and chose to have a look. Over 100 people had turned up. After the as-usual long mike speeches by the politicos for over half an hour, pongal was at last boiled in an earthen pot. The pongalo pongal chants were made and celebrations were officially declared to have started.
Then, the winners of the Kolam Painting Competition were adjudged. Over 20 kolams had been drawn since morning. The ‘best three’ were selected by the local administrator and given away prizes. There were consolation prizes for all participants. Then came the dhoti /saree distribution. As always, demand did exceed supply and people had to wait. Meantime, I grabbed my leaf of sweet pongal and walked to my room.
The panchayat administrators and the women self help groups in the locality had jointly organized it. Good job I should say.
This is what the Head of the Tamil Nadu State has to say:
The Pongal festival would rejuvenate the people. They forget all their differences like caste, creed and religion, especially political. The festival should unite all the people in the state.
I echo that sentiment. It is common festivals like these that bring the people of the local community together and promote understanding and the sense of collectiveness.
As for people who’re still wondering what samathuvam means, it is the word for equality in Tamil.