Singapore

Pongal festival to have street light-up, mini spectacle of animals


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

Serangoon Road will be lit up by 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.

The event will take place on Jan 12, and the animals will start ambling in at 10am, from the Indian Heritage Centre in Campbell Lane.

Shopkeepers and bystanders along the route 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.

JOINT EFFORT

In Singapore, the celebrations are a joint effort of the Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association and the Indian Heritage Centre.

They have planned a host of activities, including a pongal 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 Jan 7, from 11am to 1pm.

All events are free and more details are available from Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association.

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


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