|THAI PONGAL CELEBRATIONS IN THE SRI LANKA EMBASSY,
Thai Pongal was celebrated by the Sri Lankan
community in the Greater Washington area at a ceremony organized
by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington D.C. on 14th January
2007. A cross-section of the Sri Lankan Tamil community resident
in the greater Washington area and representatives of the Sri
Lanka related associations in the area were present at the event.
Thai Pongal is a thanks giving festival to the
Sun God, who makes the universe prosper. Although Thai Pongal
is generally celebrated by the Hindus in South India, and several
other states in India as well as in Sri Lanka. The prayers offered
on Pongal day are not confined to Hindus but to all living beings
in the Universe. ‘Thai’means the first month of the
Tamil calendar. So it is the belief that prosperity comes along
with the first month of the year on the Pongal day.
In his remarks at the ceremony, Ambassador Bernard
A.B. Goonetilleke, who traced the antecedents of the Thai Pongal
festival in India and Sri Lanka said, such events are intended
not only to help us appreciate our respective cultures and demonstrate
the continued unity amongst us, but also to ensure that the Embassy
is viewed as an inclusive institution, which caters to the cultural,
social and religious needs of all Sri Lankans. Mrs. Kanaga Ranganthan
gave an eloquent description of Hinduism and then spoke vividly
about the impact of Thai Pongal on the Tamil community in Sri
Lanka and South India, and conducted Hindu prayers. Following
this, the traditional oil lamp was lighted by Ambassador and Mrs.
Goonetilleke, while Ms Sahana Srikumar and Ms. Vishney Ambalavanar,
along with a group of children and their elders, sang devotional
songs to Lord Ganesh, Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Lord Murugan and
to mark Thai Pongal. The religious rituals ended with the offering
of Pongal to Lord Ganesh and other deities.
At the reception that followed the religious
ceremony, the refreshments served included an array of food traditionally
associated with Thai Pongal.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
16 January 2007