PENANG, 14 Jan 2009: Today is Ponggal Festival, an occasion that has R Subramaniam’s family waking up much earlier than usual to make the necessary preparations like decorating their house with sugar cane, mango leaves and drawing the kolam.
Dressed in their colourful new clothes, Subramaniam, his wife and their three children began the Ponggal or Harvest festival with prayers. This was followed by the boiling of fresh milk in an earthen pot in their home compound to symbolise their gratitude to Sooryan, or the Sun God, for a good year, with the hope of a better year ahead.
Subramaniam, of Kampung Buah Pala, Bukit Gelugor, said the best time to begin the Ponggal festival was about 10.30am when the sun was rising. At that time, the family gathers around the pot to wait for the milk to boil and for the precise moment to say “Ponggallo Ponggal” while adding rice and sugar into the boiling milk.
The mixture of milk, rice and sugar is then made into candy to be served to the Sun God, besides laddu, jalabi and fruits, he added.
He said Ponggal would be celebrated for three days.
“Tomorrow, we will celebrate Mattu Ponggal where cows will be honoured by giving them baths and then garlanded with Malai flowers,” he added.
He said the ritual of boiling milk would be carried out again in front of the cow shed and the rice cooked with the milk to be served to the sacred animal.
The third day is known as Kanni Ponggal when young girls are encouraged to come out of their homes in their best dresses and finery before going to the temple to pray for a good husband.
Subramaniam said the Ponggal Festival was celebrated every year by residents at Kampung Buah Pala since 1978.
This year, the village-level celebration will be on 18 Jan, and various programmes have been planned for the occasion, he added. — Bernama