This is potentially a long standing argument I have witnessed growing up in Malaysia as a Hindu and simultaneously Tamil girl. The eternal debate of Pongal and its significance to culture and religion. Lately I have been thinking about why Hindus; those who participate in religious NGO’s think they are in control of how, where, when and why a festival like Pongal is celebrated. Let me burst your little narrow minded bubble, you are not one to say how a culturally significant festival should be celebrated because the fundamental reason these celebrations exist were to bring people together in the first place, to remind people of a sense of community and belonging. The same reason temples exist but we can get into that some other time.
So, I hear that a faction of people as Hindus aren’t pleased that Pongal is being celebrated at various different dates by various Tamil based NGO’s. Well, if it were on Pongal day would everyone be able to attend? What is important here to us non-farmers, to celebrate the first harvest or to make a mark and say that we still love our culture and joy it brings? Honestly speaking, we don’t actually celebrate Pongal for what is because we are not cooking freshly harvested rice or giving our friendly neighborhood cow and bull lots of love on the day. The celebration had already evolved for us and another reminder, it isn’t a religious festival.
It never was, I know the argument made by Malaysian Tamils who are fanatically Hindus is that the majority of Tamils are Hindus thus it is a Hindu celebration. Where is the acceptance and unity in that? Just imagine the uproar and outrage that will be expressed if one of these dense Tamilians also said the majority of Indians in Malaysia are Tamils so we are all from now forth Tamils. That was just an analogy well stated but probably poorly executed.
Pongal had always been a thanksgiving and harvest festival to appreciate the helpful cattle and thank the nature for providing. It is easy to think that it is a Hindu festival but that is merely because Hinduism has been a part of the culture in Tamil Nadu and other parts of India for the longest time ever. Remember religion is only one part of an ethnicity’s culture, it may have a strong influence but it isn’t everything there somethings that lie beyond the boundaries of the perception of God. Religions are the ultimately destructive illusions.
Also, the image above I would say clearly shows the best that could be done for ‘Veettu Pongal’. It is a new pot 🙂 .