Pongal festival was celebrated across Tamilnadu, India, on Sunday, January 15, with usual enthusiasm.
Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated during the first days of the auspicious Tamil month Thai. Also called as Thai Pongal, it is celebrated for 4 days, from the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi to the third day of Thai (usually falls between 13th and 16th January).
The RVA Tamil service team joined the celebrations at St. Mathew’s Church located at Kadambathur, Tamilnadu, along with the Parish Priest, Fr. Arul Jesudoss and the parishioners.
Holy mass was presided over by Fr. Maria Delasal Viswas. Before the Holy mass, people started making Pongal in front of the Church. Eventually it was offered in the Mass.
After the mass, Pongal celebrations were conducted with special programs and games in which youth, children and parishioners participated.
Traditionally, Pongal is a Hindu Festival dedicated to worship and thank sun god Surya for the good harvest and the first grain is offered to him.
The main event this day is cooking and joyfully sharing "pongal," a special rice made with sugar milk and spices and eaten in community.
To indicate a generous harvest, new rice is cooked in new pots until they boil over by adding milk, Ghee, jiggery and cardamom. Pongal in Tamil means “boiling over or spill over,” indicating material abundance.
Christians join the celebrations as a gesture of inculturation and interreligious dialogue, in expressing gratitude to God and appreciation for the creation and human labour.
Attempts are also made to give a Christian interpretation to the Pongal rituals and celebrations.
Hebrew festival of the first fruits and the Christian feast of Pentecost are connected to harvest festival.
Some argue that Pongal evokes Christian themes of the outpouring of the Spirit and the Eucharist, both of which are supreme gift of God´s overflowing love incarnated in human history. Seen in Christian perspective, overflowing bounty of God’s grace is to be lived and expressed in sharing food and life with others, especially those in need.
Pongal, today, has evolved into a cultural festival of Tamils all over the world, including non-Hindus and those who know nothing about farming.
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