“Although born into a muslim household, Pongal is one of those festivals I eagerly look forward to every year. That’s how it is in the interiors of Tamilnadu, where the occasion still pulls in the entire communities together. We call it ‘Samathuva’ Pongal or a Pongal of equivalence, wherein everyone from a particular society, irrespective of caste, age and gender participate collectively, taking the spirit of the festival to an all-new high!
You see, the excitement starts early, right around new years when individual groups start pooling in funds for the fest. From there, it’s two weeks of fun and madness, working on different departments until the whole setup is done! There are religious rituals, entertaining performances, competitions, and, of course, lots of food, to keep various sections of the audience engaged. So whether it’s a simple rangoli competition or even an intense Jallikattu trial, the atmosphere is lively and energetic on all the three days!
What’s even better is using the grandeur as a reason to support folk arts that are on the brink of extinction. Last year we had a plethora of traditional instrumentalists and dancers who were thoroughly excited to be brought back once again! Even with the Jallikattu bull owners, it’s not just money that’s offered for leasing their cattle. We present their entire family too, with newly stitched silk-wear alongside a few grams of gold! By the end, these small gestures often rake in unexpected tears of joy with a genuine sense of gratitude in their faces.
Personally, I look forward to two things- one is the ‘Eru Thazhuvuthal’ contest, where a player is expected to gently stroke the head of a charged bull. There’s a tinge of nostalgia attached to it, for I have fond memories of winning it year after year!
Second, are the closing shows, where anyone interested can go up on stage and dance to their heart’s content! It’s the best feeling out there, having all your loved ones at the same place bubbling with a contagious sense of happiness! These are precisely the reasons why millions of people like me, working in other cities, long for this festival from as early as Christmas!
It truly captures what a celebration should be about- good vibes and a sense of community!”