Kuala Lumpur:-The Tamil Community of both Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Chapel of Our Lady of Good Health in Kampung Pandan, converged at the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Jalan Peel, on Sunday, January 17, 2016, evening to celebrate Ponggal, at the 5pm with a Special Mass.
Prior to the Ponggal Mass, the congregation, many dressed in their traditional attired, assembled at the main entrance to pray and witness the ‘boiling of ponggal’. Ponggal is a dish of sweet concoction of rice, cashew nut, raisin and milk. This harvest festival is also a time for communal thanksgiving, of being grateful to God for the abundance of blessings for the fruits of the earth and of our labour and also an opportunity to thank God for His blessings for our life and His guidance.
His Excellency Sebastian Francis, Bishop of Penang, presided the Mass together with Parish Priest Fr Edwin Peter. Both partook in the preparation of the ponggal by pouring in the milk into the ponggal pot, a significant act to bring goodness and fortune in years to come, with blessing.
The Church main entrance was also adorned with a kolam ,a light symbol made of a variety of coloured rice, and Agal Villaku, which can mean light of Christ to brighten up our lives from darkness of sins. The colourful kolam was done by the efforts of the youths. The youths also decorated the sanctuary with a hand-painting of the harvest festival, and with sugar canes.
During the Presentation of Gifts, a variety of the land produces, such like fruits were brought up as a symbol of thanksgiving to our God Almighty for His marvellous blessings bestowed on His people.
Both Bishop Sebastian and Fr Edwin wished the community ‘Thai ponggal valtukal’ in Tamil which means ‘ Happy Ponggal’.
After Mass, all present were also feted to a ‘banana left‘ vegetarian meal with ponggal rice, held at the church courtyard. Bishop Sebastian and Fr Edwin also spent time mingling with the parishioners. In conjunction with the outmost event, a traditional performances was held during the fellowship, where the youths showcase their talents in dance and with some song.
Ponggal, a harvest festival, equivalent to Thanksgiving and falls on the first month (Thai) of the Tamil calendar (usually celebrated in mid-January of the Gregorian calendar) and is being celebrated by Tamils in particularly in South India and elsewhere is non-relevant to any particular religious faith.
The Catholic Church is unique. It caters and accommodates the various cultural practices of the different ethnicity who professed the same one faith. In Malaysia, the Church celebrates Chinese New Year, Ponggal, Gawai, Keaamatan & Panen Harvest Festivals.
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