Pongal Celebrations at Sri Meenakshi Temple

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Ladies gather in front of Rajagopuram to partake in the procession before offering Pongal to the deities.

By Ponni Sivaraman

PEARLAND: Thai Pongal or Makara Sankranthi is a harvest festival that is celebrated on a grand scale by the all over India, especially in South India. Makara Sankranthi marks the transition of the Sun into the zodiac sign of Makara rashi (Capricorn) which is also believed to mark the arrival of spring. Pongal is a four-day festival of Thanksgiving, celebrated on the first day of the Tamil month “Thai” to honor the Sun God for a bountiful harvest.

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Surya Namaskar at Sri Meenakshi Temple started the Pongal celebration.

This year, the Devotees from different Indian states gathered at Sri Meenakshi Temple on January 17, to welcome and celebrate Pongal in a very traditional village style.  Nearly 200 devotees, many with their families, dressed in traditional South Indian attire prepared the sweet or “Sarkarai Pongal “in brass pots over earthen wood stoves.  The word, “Pongal “ is derived from  the Tamil word “ Pongu”  meaning to boil over or to be bountiful, and as such the most auspicious moment of  “ boiling over of the milk” is considered to be a sign of abundance in the coming year.

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Traditional Sarkarai Pongal was cooked in village style Clay pot at MTS

The sun was up bright and towering over the Raja Gopuram and the celebration started with the Surya Namaskar,; with Achalesh Amar of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh  and Hasita Karthik from Vyasa ( Vivekanada  Yoga Anusandana Samasthana) leading the enthusiastic Yoga group. This was followed by prayers and sangalpam by Sri Manikka Bhattar.  It was an awesome experience to see several ladies helped by their spouses and children making Pongal in the traditional way.  Greetings of “PONGALO PONGAL”, and wishes for a bountiful life were then exchanged by the participants as the sweet pongal was being cooked. Pongal greetings were shared in different Indian languages- Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannda, Hindi, Gujarathi, Marati, Kashmiri, Punjabi and even in Nepali.  It felt like you were in an Indian village.  This Neivedhyam was then offered to the Gods with a final aarti and the Prasadam was distributed to all.

It was a feeling of Joy, Happiness and Nostalgia that was felt on that beautiful sunny day.  All this was made possible by coordinators Nach Vaduganathan, Bhargavi Golla and Meera Srikanth.  Cultural programs were also scheduled by the Teulugu association on the same day with Tamil Association celebration, the following day. All the Temple staff worked hard before and after to ensure the Pongal celebration was memorable to all devotees.