Greater Houston Tamil School Students Revel in Traditional “Thai Pongal” Celebrations

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HOUSTON: Greater Houston Tamil School students celebrated “Thai Pongal”, the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu, a southern state in India, with fervor and joy. With more than 750 people participating in the functions at the various locations, this was yet another successful attempt by the Greater Houston Tamil School to bring its 350 students closer to Tamil culture and traditions

Pongal, a festival of thanksgiving to nature has been embedded in Tamil culture for centuries. In India, this festival is celebrated with a big family and lasts for almost a week. The students, teachers and parents helped to bring back that same wonderful feeling of family and joy. Coincidentally, this four-day festival was celebrated on four different days by the five branches of Greater Houston Tamil School (Katy, Westheimer, Sugarland, Woodlands and Pearland).

Katy Tamil School kicked off the celebrations by participating in the Tamil community New Year celebrations on January 3, at the Durga Bari Temple, Houston, TX. The students stole the show with their singing, dancing and instrumentals to the pride of their hard working teachers. The school is planning another cultural event in February.

Westheimer Tamil School celebrated Pongal on January 17 at the school premises. The students demonstrated their knowledge about the festival with the help of art, speech, costume shows and dance performances. The folks dances with traditional folk dance costumes and accessories mesmerized everyone.

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Sugarland Tamil School continued the celebrations that afternoon at its school premises with the younger kids performing first. This was followed by traditional Bharathanatyam dances, music and singing of Bharathiar songs. A musical skit which combined the music, acting, speech and dancing skills of the students was a unique attempt and got everyone’s attention.

Woodlands Tamil School celebrations were on January 18th at the Hindu Temple of the Woodlands. The students put up a show about Tamilnadu and some of its important cities. The information given about by the senior students intertwined with various dance performances by the younger kids representing each city was a wonderful treat to see, hear and cherish.

Pearland Tamil School completed the celebrations on January 25 at the Silver Lake clubhouse.  The students recited poems, Thirukkurals, performed traditional dances and also talked about the significance of the four days of Pongal. A debate on “Who is more important for student success – strict teachers or kind teachers?” enthralled the audience.

The event locations wore a festive look with traditional decorations such as freshly harvested sugarcanes, “Pongal Pot” and “Kolam”. People also came dressed in traditional clothes (Vetti and Selai). One felt that the celebrations were happening in the beautiful villages of Tamil Nadu. To symbolize the harvest festival’s “Virundhombal” (act of offering food) parents brought food to share with others. The feast included the traditional “Sarkkarai Pongal” and “Ven pongal” and was served on banana leaves. A food drive was also conducted to encourage students to participate in the act of helping those in need.

As the Tamil saying “Thai piranthal vazhi pirakkum” goes, the events culminated with everyone brimming with joy and wishing each other happiness and prosperity! Isn’t that what festivals and celebrations are for?

Great Houston Tamil School is a non-profit school run entirely by volunteers. For further information, please visit