It is a pleasure to be part of ponggal celebration. Ponggal is a harvest festival dedicated to the Sun God. Thai Ponggal is one of the most important festivals celebrated by Tamil people in India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. The importance of sun to the crops has great cultural significance because it provides the necessary light to the agricultural crops that are critical to the social economic well being of farmers. It brings us environmentally closer to our roots which are mother earth and the common bond of identity and language. What could we derive from the ponggal festival?
Understanding our historical roots.
Ponggal should be a day to remember our ancestors who came to Malaysia in dangerous journey where many died along the way. They left their home from India to come to Malaysia to give their children a better life. They cleared the virgin jungles and worked under the sun tapping rubber trees ,and contributing to the Malaysia economy. Malaysia would not be where it is today if not for sacrifices of the Indian community. The ponggal festival which signifies the productive work of farmers is opportunity reaffirm and appreciates the productive sacrifices of our ancestors.
Solidarity among Indians.
The celebration of ponggal is beyond religion where it is celebrated by the Indian and other communities. We find such celebration in Churches also. Ponggal should reignite our cultural origins that unite us rather than divide us. The rich should celebrate it with the poor, and Christian and Hindus should celebrate ponggal together with solidarity and unity in mind.
Reflecting on the Environment.
Being a harvest festival ponggal should propel us to reflect on climate change that is destroying the income of farmers. Many low land areas are effected by climate change where extreme heat are destroying crops and in turn effecting the live hood of farmers. As a community we should be environmentally aware of our surrounding nature and seek to protect from it industries that produce extreme heat.
Enhancing the Tamil Language
Ponggal celebration should propel us to speak more of the Tamil language. It is the language that unites us Indians and gives us an identity. Many parents do not speak Tamil to their children, and the proficiency of the language as deteriorated among the young. Educated Tamil parents are speaking English to their children at home. Let’s bring the Tamil language to the core as we reflect on cultural festival like ponggal.
Social economic awareness.
Our ancestor came toil on the soil to ensure we enough to eat, besides enjoying the fruits of labor The ponggal festival should guide us to reflect on our current social economic position, and work together to improve our social economic well being. The awareness level is still poor among us where we lack behind other ethnic groups in the economic sector. Cultural awareness should empower us to produce more by learning new skills and competencies to survive in the global world.
Therefore may the Ponggal Festival bring us closer together to reflect on our history, language, social economic conditions and the environment. We need to reach out to each other in solidarity, enhance our identity and language and be more aware of our social economic status. Cultural celebrations should be a time of reflection, and building bonds of solidarity that would propel us to be shining contributors to the nation.