Singapore

PM Lee celebrates Pongal harvest festival with Bukit Panjang residents

About 2,000 Bukit Panjang residents cheered "Pongalo Pongal!" yesterday as they celebrated Pongal, a harvest festival observed by Tamils to mark the arrival of spring.

At an open field next to Pending LRT station, some tried pounding rice with their hands to experience the traditional way of preparing Pongal rice, a sweet rice pudding.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was the guest of honour at the festivities, hosted by Bukit Panjang MP Teo Ho Pin.

Noting that residents of various communities had come together for the celebrations, PM Lee said: "It is only in Singapore that this happens."

He said grassroots advisers and leaders have put in effort in towns and neighbourhoods all over Singapore to foster community spirit, and this has resulted in making people feel that they have a place in Singapore.

Referring to the ingredients and method of cooking Pongal rice, PM Lee said: "Every year, I hope we have a pot with milk, lots of milk, lots of rice, lots of warmth and fire, to boil over, and we can say, 'Pongalo Pongal.'"

Pongal celebrations in Singapore started on Jan 10 and will last until Feb 9.

Dr Teo, who is also mayor of the North West District, said Pongal celebrations have been a yearly affair in Bukit Panjang since 2008. - THE STRAITS TIMES

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