Pongal Celebrations and Support for Jallikattu


HOUSTON: Greater Houston Tamil School branches celebrated the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu known as “Thai Pongal” and “Uzhavar Thiruvizha” with a lot of joy and zeal. “Pongal” festival usually falls in the middle of January. This year it fell on Saturday, January 14. All the branches celebrated on the same weekend or a week later.

These celebrations were kicked off by the Sugar Land branch where the students performed traditional folk songs, kollywood songs, debates, quizzes and free form performances highlighting the cultural significance and history.

Woodlands branch celebrated the festival on January 15, at the Woodlands Hindu temple. The students created a theme “Watch Pongal celebration as a TV show”. It was very creative and the students performed similar to how the TV channels schedule programs on the festival day. Students staged programs like Today’s news, soap opera, dance competition and debates. After the programs, students were given prizes for their Thirukkural recital competition and for their performances during the celebrations.

Westheimer branch celebrated the festival on January 21, at the school campus. The students performed Tamil Nadu folk songs and participated in kolam (rangoli) competitions, sugarcane eating competition and individual performances. The highlight of the celebrations was the portrayal, by the parents, of the different styles of Pongal that are native to the different regions of Tamil Nadu.

Pearland branch also celebrated the festival on January 21, at the neighborhood club house. The students came in traditional dresses and put up a gorgeous fashion show showcasing the traditional dresses worn by the people of Tamil Nadu. The parents showed all the students how the Pongal is cooked during the festival in India under the sunlight with sugarcanes tied and kept in the shape of a pyramid and chanting “Pongalo Pongal” in the traditional way. After lunch, a debate was organized by the students on the topic “Is it easy to keep the Tamil tradition and language in a foreign land?” Students did a fantastic job. The creativity of the students was also on display in the form of dance, karaoke singing and drama.

The branches at Katy and West Katy also observed Pongal with the traditional display of sugarcanes and sharing of delicious sweet Pongal. All these celebrations had such a festive look and aura that it temporarily transported everyone back to Tamil Nadu.

Greater Houston Tamil School and its branches also came out in support of the traditional sport played during the Pongal time called “Jallikattu”. This traditional sport had been banned in India in recent years and there was a huge peaceful protest organized in Tamil Nadu to reinstate this traditional sport. The Tamil diaspora in various parts of the world rose up in support of this traditional event. As a first step, HTS along with other Tamils in the Houston area gave a petition to Consulate General of India. On Thursday, January 19, people gathered in front of the Indian Consulate and did a peaceful demonstration. In addition, several support demonstrations were organized in a peaceful manner at various places in Houston.

For further information please visit www.houstontamilschools.org.