Pongal Festival » Pongal in South East Asia

Pongal in South East Asia : Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar and others

Due to the large number of Tamils residing in the various countries of South East Asia, Pongal is extremely popular festival in these places. Indonesia has about 2,000 to 10,000 Tamils, where as Singapore has about 200,000 Tamils who constitute the third main cultural group. Malaysia has a 1,060,000 Tamil population and Myanmar (Burma) had a Tamil population of 200,000 at one time, but since the end of the Second World War the number has been reduced. Cambodia has 1,000 Tamils, China 5,000 and Thailand 10,000.

Pongal Celebrations in these Countries

In Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar the festival of Pongal is one of the biggest Hindu festivals celebrated on a national scale that rallies round the Tamils from far and wide. Numerous temples are spread over in these small and diverse immigrant countries and Tamil cultural activities take place with deep involvement on an international spread. For four days, Hindu temples situated in these countries ring with rhythmic sounds of bells, drums, clarinets and conch shells as Southern Hindus celebrate Pongal - the Harvest Festival.

An early morning ritual in the homes begins with rice cooked in new pots which are allowed to boil over as a sign of prosperity. In the temple, rice is also prepared while prayers are chanted to the accompaniment of the musical instruments. Vegetables, sugar cane and spices are offered to the gods and later consumed by devotees to cleanse themselves of their past sins.

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