Tamil Catholic Community Celebrates ‘PONGGAL’ Festival With Gratitude

Kampung Pandan: Archbishop Emeritus Murphy Pakiam and Fr Edwin Peter joined Catholics at the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Health (OLGH) here in sub-urban Kuala Lumpur on Jan 15, 2017 to celebrate their annual ‘Ponggal ‘festival.

Prior to the 5.30pm Mass, the congregation assembled at the main entrance to pray and witness the ‘boiling of ponggal’ rice. 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 all the material processions especially the fruits of the earth and of our labour and also an opportunity to thank God for His abundant blessings for life and His guidance. The retired prelate also blessed the ingredients in the pot.

The front entrance was also adored with a kolam, Agal Villaku, a light symbol made of a variety of coloured rice, which can mean light of Christ to brighten up our lives from darkness of sins. The colourful kolam was the efforts of the youths.

During the Presentation of Gifts, a variety of the land produces were brought up as a symbol of thanksgiving to our God Almighty for His marvelous blessings bestowed on His people.

Both Archbishop Pakiam and Fr Edwin wishes the Tamil community who came donned in their traditional attired for the joyful celebration, ‘Thai ponggal valtukal’ in Tamil which means ‘ Happy Ponggal’.

All present were also feted to a ‘banana left‘ vegetarian meal with ponggal, after Mass, held at the chapel’s ground. Both the retired prelate and Fr Edwin also spent time mingling with the parishioners and chatting with them. There was also traditional performance held during the fellowship.

The Catholic Church is unique. It caters and accommodates the various cultural practices of the different ethnicities who professed the same one faith. In Malaysia, the Church celebrates Chinese New Year, Ponggal and the Gawai, Keaamatan & Panen Harvest Festivals.

Several other parishes in the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur also held similar thanksgiving Masses and ‘boiling of ponggal’rice to mark the harvest festival celebration.

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.