THAI PONGAL CELEBRATIONS IN THE SRI LANKA
EMBASSY, WASHINGTON DC
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
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
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
20 January 2010