The Auckland Tamil Association on Saturday, January 18 hosted a small but significant Pongal celebratory event at Mt Eden War Memorial on Dominion Road.

President of the Association Vai Ravindran told The Indian Weekender that over 100 people turned up to the informal celebratory event with their children and friends and participated in several activities during the day.

Some of the activities during the day included Kolam (Tamil Rangoli), and Samayal (cooking competition) among other traditional puja and performances.

The cooking competition had 15 teams participating, which was marked on best food that matches both in taste and sticks to the theme ‘Food is medicine’. The rule of the competition was to cook without using white sugar, milk and white rice.

Pongal, also known as Thai Pongal is a multiday Hindu harvest festival celebrated with huge pomp and glamour in South India. The festival is marked to thank the Sun God for agricultural abundance. Auckland Tamil Association hosted the event on the last day of Pongal this year (15 to January 18) and during the event try to replicate most of the practices from back in India by cooking jaggery rice in new pots and thanking sun gods.

The three-day-long festival is started with praying to sun gods on the first day, followed by Mathu Pongal on the second, thanking bulls and cows for their hard work on the fields. On this day, the traditional sport of Jallikattu (hugging bulls by their hump) is played, which is a world-famous sport and is being celebrated for more than 100 years. The third day of the festival is called Kaanum Pongal, where people visit public and tourist places with their families.

Another big celebratory and formal event is scheduled on Saturday, February 8 where the hosts plan to bring an exuberant display of traditional dances, Tamil Pattimandram (debate session), and games like tug of war, Uriya (Pot breaking) competitions etc. The prize winners will be awarded gold earrings, silver lamp and silk sarees.

“We hosted an informal, traditional event which was well attended by the community and next month; we will have a bigger formal celebration with different activities to engage with our community members,” Vai Ravindra said.