Month-long celebration for Pongal next year

The annual Indian festival of Pongal will be a month-long celebration next year, with such highlights as a street light-up and a mini spectacle of cows, bulls, calves and goats in Little India.

Serangoon Road will be lit up with fairy lights from Jan 5, with the switch set to be turned on at 6.30pm in Campbell Lane by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

As in past years, a major attraction will be the herding of the animals to a farm-like area in Hastings Road, where an olden-day wooden bullock cart will be on display. It will take place on Jan 12, when the animals will start ambling at 10am from the Indian Heritage Centre in Campbell Lane.

Shopkeepers and bystanders along the route would typically garland the animals as a gesture of appreciation for their role in ensuring a bountiful harvest.

Pongal is a harvest and thanksgiving festival that marks the start of spring and is celebrated worldwide by Tamils, particularly in southern India and the state of Tamil Nadu.

It falls on Jan 14 and is celebrated for four days. In Singapore, the celebration is organised by the Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association (Lisha), with the Indian Heritage Centre playing a bigger role this time round.

A host of activities have been planned, including a cooking masterclass at the Indian Heritage Centre where people can learn to cook pongal, a sweet rice dish. The classes are on Jan 6 and 7, from 11am to 1pm.

All events are free and more details are available from Lisha. But unlike past years, no events will be held on Sundays to avoid creating noise. The exception is Sunday, Jan 14 - the first day of Pongal.

About 100,000 people, mostly tourists, are expected to visit and take part in the celebration, which ends on Feb 4.

Said Lisha chairman Rajakumar Chandra: "Whether Indian, non-Indian, locals or foreigners, I invite them to join in the celebrations to learn about Pongal."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2017, with the headline 'Month-long celebration for Pongal next year'. Print Edition | Subscribe