|SRI LANKA EMBASSY CELEBRATES THAI PONGAL
Welcome speech by the Ambassador
The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington DC celebrated
the Thai Pongal celebrations on January 17, 2009 with the presence
of a large number of Sri Lankan Tamil community and representatives
of the Sri Lankan Associations based in the Greater Washington
DC area at the Official Residence of the Ambassador.
Lighting the oil lamp - Ambassador and Mrs. Wickramasuriya
The celebrations were held in keeping with the
tradition of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington DC of celebrating
the important religious festivals of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims
Ambassador Wickramasuriya welcomed the gathering
and said that the Sri Lankan Embassy had been celebrating the
important religious festivals of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and
Christians for the past several years. He further stated that
the Thai Pongal is recognized as a cultural festival and is particularly
significant to the Tamil people, as a thanks giving ritual expressing
gratitude to the sprits of nature, the Sun and paying homage to
the farm animals for their contributions in providing a bountiful
harvest. It is celebrated with great joy by all bringing peace,
happiness, prosperity, brightness and harmony in the lives of
everyone. The Ambassador also made a few remarks in Tamil inviting
all Sri Lankans to join hands to build a nation, where everyone
could live with in dignity and harmony with the cultures of different
Mrs . Kanaga Ranganathan explains the significance of Thai
Mrs. Kanaga Ranganathan who conducted the Hindu
prayers, highlighted the “Significance of Thai Pongal”.
She also touched upon the importance of Hinduism and its philosophy.
She further said that Thai Pongal is an important festival for
Tamils since it dawns with the month of Thai (January 14) according
to the Tamil calendar. Tamils usually believe that prosperity,
happiness, peace, brightness and harmony will reach their lives
from the inception of Thai. She stated that on the Pongal Day
the Tamils offer their gratitude towards the Sun. On the following
day, they celebrate “Mattu Pongal” which is dedicated
to the cattle that helped in agricultural activities.
Sri Sivanathakuru Kurukkal performs the pooja
Following the remarks made by Mrs. Kanaga Ranganathan,
Ambassador and Madam Wickramasuriya lighted the traditional oil
lamp followed by a program of devotional songs to Lord Murugan,
Lord Ganesha, Divine mother, Ayypa and Thirupuhal , sung by the
group of artists organized by Ms. Deepa Sri Kumar.
Ambassador with the guests
The religious prayers were performed by the Hindu
Priest of Siva Vishnu Temple, Sri Sivakantha kurukal and placed
vibuthy on the forehead of the Ambassador and visitors. The religious
rituals ended with the offering of Pongal to the Deities. The
Deputy Chief of Mission Ambassador Tissa Wijeratne delivered a
vote of thanks.
Pongal and sweetmeat traditionally associated
with Thai Pongal were served at the end of the event followed
by Ceylon Tea. Decorative motifs, popularly known as “Kolams”
among the Tamil community drawn on the floor and the musicals
on Nathaswaram added a colourful ambience to the celebrations
held at the Official residence of the Ambassador.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
19 January 2009