Pongal is one of biggest festivals for the Tamil community across the globe, especially for the Tamilians livings in the Indian subcontinent. The day of harvest is marked by celebratory events, cultural programmes and a wave of events to spread the joy of this festival amongst everyone.

The Auckland Tamil Association, the most active community organisation of the Tamil speaking community in Auckland, has every year arranged a cultural event that brought the whole Tamil community as one, under one roof to celebrate through music, dance, skits etc.

To get more engagement from the community and especially amongst the younger generation if Tamil children and youth who are born here and grown in Kiwi culture ATA decided to host a special event that brings the community members before the cultural event to participate in recreational activities that connects them more with the integral values of the Tamil culture and the essence of Pongal celebrations.

More than 200 community members, especially women, children and youth gathered at the Mt Roskill War Memorial Hall on May Road on Saturday, February 2 to participate in different activities related to the Pongal festival.

The women participated in the cooking competition, but this was unlike other cooking competitions different where the participants use grains and vegetables such as different types of lentils, rice, spices and create the traditional festive snacks and dishes as made back in Chennai, India.

A reasonable challenge for the women who took upon themselves the task to prepare traditional food items with limited resources and presented to a panel of eight judges and the audience who judged them based on different parameters.

The parameters ranged from the essence of the dishes, presentation, taste, use of different grains, authenticity to Tamilian foods, texture and warmth.

Besides food competition, women participated in the traditional rangoli competition that once again were judged as per their looks, difficulty, theme, precision and perfection, overall presentation and getting the rangoli ready within the stipulated time frame.

The children, on the other hand, engaged themselves with the drawing and colouring competition, based on Pongal theme at the venue.

Speaking to the Indian Weekender, ATA President Vai Ravindran said, the idea behind this event was to get the community members ready and in the groove of Pongal festival.

“We have witnessed huge participation from the community members, right from young children to youth and working men and women who either participated in the pre-event or supported one another by being present on Saturday morning. This shows their love and commitment to the Tamil culture and how these values can be inculcated amongst the younger generation through such activities,” Mr Ravindran said.

Echoing similar sentiments, one of the judges too expressed her joy of seeing every individual present at the event so enthusiastically making their contribution to Pongal celebrations.

The results of the competition will be declared at the main celebration event on Saturday, February 9 at the Mt Eden War Memorial from 6 p.m. where the winners and participants will be awarded and felicitated.