The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington DC together with the Sri Lankan community in the Greater Washington area, for the fifth consecutive year celebrated the Thai Pongal festival at a colorful ceremony at the Embassy on January 17, 2010. A cross-section of the Sri Lankan Tamil community resident in the greater Washington area and representatives of the Sri Lanka-related associations were present at the event.

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 Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian.

The Charge d’ Affaires, Mr. Tissa Wijeratne welcoming the gathering said the Thai Pongal is a significant festival celebrated by the Tamil Hindus as a thanks giving ritual expressing gratitude to the spirits of nature, the Sun God and paying homage to the farm animals for their contributions in providing a bountiful harvest.

He added that “Tamils particularly in the North and the East will celebrate this festival in peace in their own areas after three decades. This festival brings forth peace, happiness and brotherhood among others in the country. We, Sri Lankans can look forward to the future with new hopes and expectations in this New Year."

The program also featured a talk on “The significance of Thai Pongal” by Mr. Jegathpriyan Vengadasubramaniyam who said that “Pongal is the day to thank our forefathers for teaching us to appreciate nature, cultural values and religious tolerance that they have bestowed upon for a harmonious and prosperous society”.

Following the remarks by Mr. Jegathpriyan, Hindu Priest Sri Sivanatha Kurukkal who conducted the religious observances blessed for the prosperity and harmony among all communities in Sri Lanka. The traditional Hindu oil lamp was lighted by the Charge d’ Affaires followed by a program of devotional songs to Lord Ganesh, Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu arranged by Ms. Deepa Srikumar and Mr. Earnest Dharmapala.

The religious rituals ended with the offering of Pongal to Lord Ganesh and other deities.

Minister- Commercial Nimal Karunathilleke delivered a vote of thanks.

Decorative motifs, popularly known as “Kolams” among the Tamil community were drawn on the floor to add the traditional cultural look to the event. Pongal and sweetmeat traditionally associated with Thai Pongal and Ceylon Tea were served at the end of the event.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

20 January 2010


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