It was a time to express gratitude and mark new beginnings as residents gathered on 19 January to celebrate the Ponggal festival at the basketball court of Block 224 Bukit Batok Street 21. Ponggal is celebrated in South India by farmers who give thanks to Surya, the Sun God and giver of life, for the blessings of a rich harvest.
To usher in the celebrations and signify a fresh start, devotees typically lit oil lamps, don new clothes and create colourful designs called “kolam” with rice flour in front of their houses. At the Bukit Batok celebration, residents replicated some of these traditions by creating interesting patterns on the floor and cooked a pot of rice with milk as an offering to the Sun God. As Ponggal means to “overflow”, the pot of rice has to bubble over to symbolise prosperity and abundance. This was then served to the attendees of the event, who also enjoyed a vegetarian lunch.
The event also showcased a painting of the cow, as the festival also honoured these sacred animals for their contributions in ploughing the fields and providing milk. Residents also had a sugarcane biting session as the crop is usually harvested during Ponggal.
Mr Murali Pillai, Member of Parliament for Bukit Batok SMC and Grassroots Adviser, visited the activity booths and observed the festival traditions with the residents. “We had a marvellous Ponggal celebration where there were opportunities for friends from other races to understand what it means and what people do during this special occasion,” he wrote in a Facebook post.