Pongal Festival 2015

Ōhāriu
Sunday, February 8, 2015

This evening I attended the Pongal celebrations held by Wellington Mutamizh Sangam in Newlands.

Pongal is a Tamil harvest festival celebrating the sun for the energy for agriculture; for abundance and prosperity.

The Pongal ceremony includes a boiling in milk of the first harvest of rice. Sugar, nuts, raisins and ghee are also added. It creates a deliciously sweet dish which is made by every household in thanks to the farmers who have toiled to create the surplus of food.

Professor V S Muthu gave commentary about the process and the background to the festival while the cooking ceremony was underway. He gave his speech in Tamil and I am very grateful to Rama Ramanathan for his translation during the speech.

Rama is one of the founding members of the NZ Ethnic Council and a truly funny and warm person. It was my privilege to meet him tonight.

I was invited to launch a new newsletter produced by Wellington Mutamizh Sangam, Saathanai – meaning “achievement”.

This newsletter is part of a programme of work the society is putting in place to stimulate interest in, and sustain, Tamil language and culture in New Zealand.

We were treated to some fantastic dance performances – from classical dance, to “Bollywood” dance, NZ Tamil style.

A wonderful evening and I am grateful to Wellington Mutamizh Sangam for the invitation, particularly Siva Dorairaj and Raveen Annamalai for their continued support.

New Zealand is a far better place for the rich, diverse cultural mix we have developed over the years. We are made all the stronger as a nation and a people by those who choose to make this place home.