Little India is glowing with festive lights and bustling with activities this month.
To celebrate Pongal (which means overflow in Tamil), a bazaar was held at Campbell Lane this year. This Tamil harvest and thanksgiving festival is traditionally an occasion when farmers, largely those from South India, give thanks to the Sun God for bountiful harvests.
Pongal is usually observed over four days in January. But in Singapore, the celebration goes on for a month. Tamil families would spring-clean their homes and wear new clothes to mark the start of a new year.
Many also go to the bazaar to shop for flower garlands, Pongal pots and other items.
The fresh flower garlands can be used for worship purposes.
The Pongal pots can be used to cook a traditional dish of sweetened rice, boiled with cow’s milk and garnished with raisins and nuts.
In the spirit of celebrating Pongal, or overflowing abundance, the dish is cooked until it boils over. Those around the pot would then chant “pongolla pongal”, which means “may this rice boil over”.
Festival-goers can learn to paint their own Pongal pots at the Indian Heritage Center (IHC). They can also try Pulli Kolam at the center. Kolam is a form of drawing completed with chalk powder or rice flour.
During the festival, many Hindu families would draw Kolam on the floor outside their homes to “invite more prosperity” into their lives.
Along Hastings Road, people can also feed a cow, which is deemed sacred in the Hindu faith.
Mr Saravanan Sadanandom, general manager of IHC, believes the Pongal celebration is a good chance for Tamils to embrace their culture and bond with one another.
He said: “Nowadays, there is a lot of western influence. If we don’t pass it (our tradition) on to the next generation, we will lose our identity.”