Pongal in Africa: Mauritius, Reunion, Seychelles And South Africa
Mauritius has a Tamil population of 115,000, the larger bulk from the southern state of Tamil Nadu who arrived there since 1727 to work in the sugar cane plantations. Reunion is an Indian Ocean island being run as a French Department. Tamil settlements started as far back as 1848 as indentured labor, mainly from Pondicherry and Karaikal, the French territories in Southern India.
Seychelles, a group of islands in the Indian Ocean, has a Tamil history of about 230 years. Now there about 4000 Tamils in trading as well as in the professions. In South Africa, Tamil migration started from 1860, and now there are more than 250,000 Tamils spread over many cities, the concentration being in Natal and Durban. There is a sort of Tamil renaissance and the Tamils there take great pride in their age-old traditions.Pongal Celebration In These Countries
There are more than 250 temples in Mauritius and Pongal is celebrated on a national level as it is declared as a public holiday. In reunion, there are about 120,000 Tamils with a large number of Hindu temples run by voluntary organizations where the rituals and customs of Pongal celebration is preserved well.
The organization of the Seychelles Hindu Kovil Sangam in 1984 and the building of the first and only Navasakthi Vinayagar temple brought together all the Tamils to further consolidate and nurture their cultural and religious links. The annual Pongal festival is a major event where cultural troupes are invited. The organization celebrate the Pongal festival on a national scale.
In South Africa, Tamil cultural organizations help a lot to recover the beauty of the Pongal Celebration. The Pongal festival have promoted Tamil oneness. Many temples that were built in South Africa, has immensely helped to preserve the rich traditions of Pongal festival.