Pongal celebrations to begin with a street light-up on Friday

SINGAPORE - This year's activities for Pongal, a harvest festival celebrated mainly by the Tamil community, will start with a street light-up in Serangoon Road on Friday and continue until Jan 24.

Besides having more interactive performances and a heritage carnival starting on Monday for visitors to learn how authentic Pongal - a traditional sweet pudding - is made, visitors to Little India will also get to see a mini farm with cows, calves and goats.

Pongal, which also refers to the boiling of milk and rice to signify abundance and prosperity, begins on Jan 15 and is a four-day affair.

Most activities during the celebration period will take place on the pedestrianised Campbell Lane and on Hastings Road, which will be closed until Jan 20.

"During the 1950s and 1960s, (Pongal) used to be a well-celebrated festival in Singapore, but things went downhill until 2001, when we revived it," said Mr Rajakumar Chandra, chairman of the Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association (Lisha), the main organiser of celebrations. Lisha hopes the celebrations this year will attract more youth.

"The people who are going to continue growing this will be the youngsters," he said.

Lisha is expecting a turnout of around 200,000 people this year, up from about 5,000 in 2001.

byseow@sph.com.sg