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India: Catholic Church celebrates harvest festival to break down inequalities

Indian Madurai Archdiocese celebrated Pongal – a harvest festival to stress egalitarian value in Tamil culture on January 13.
Pongal Celebration. (Photo: Supplied)

Indian Madurai Archdiocese celebrated Pongal – a harvest festival to stress egalitarian value in Tamil culture on January 13.

Father Gabriel Gnanadhiraviam, the director of  Madurai Multi-Purpose Social Service Society (MMSSS), organized the event for the archdiocesan staff to embrace the greatness of the local culture.

"Let this Pongal bring happiness and joy, as well as prosperity for the future. After all the struggles, rice and sugarcane give taste and life, which teaches each of us to learn from it," said Father Gabriel.

MMSSS administrative officer Morise Antonyswamy said that the Pongal festival breaks down all Tamilian inequities.

"Religion and caste are artificial constructs created by humans, but mother tongue is a natural phenomenon that reveals a person's true identity. Allow this Pongal to rejuvenate our lives after all of us have gone through a trying time," Antonysawmy said.

Father Gabriel offered Pongal gift - rice and other components for  25 MMSSS staff members, including regional co-ordinator employees and fieldwork staff members from Theni District, Viruthunagar District, and Madurai District.

Pongal is a harvest celebration celebrated in Tamil houses on the first day of the Tamil month of Thai, which coincides with Uttaryayana or the sun's northward migration.

Most regions in South India would have completed the harvest just before Pongal, and hence the homes of farmers and stockyards would be filled with the newly produced paddy.

It is the same period when other parts of India celebrate Sankranti as the annual agricultural cycle.

"Harvest festival is a time to celebrate the treasures of nature that sustain and enrich our existence," Father Gabriel said.

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