Tamil Catholics celebrate Pongal to promote communal harmony

Tamil Catholics celebrate Pongal to promote communal harmony

In view of the Tamil culture and also to promote communal harmony, members of the Catholic Tamil Trust celebrated 'Pongal', the festival of harvest, at Infant Jesus Shrine on Pusphashrama premises, Naidu Nagar in the city on Monday.

President of the trust James Christopher said that the celebration of Pongal is being held for the sixth year in a row. "Dignitaries like Bishop K A William, ex-mayor Ayub Khan, JD(S) leader Azezullah (Ajju) and priests from other shrines were felicitated. Following a festival mass prayer, lead by the Bishop, the devotees participated in the celebrations. They were served Pongal. A feast was also arranged for lunch. Cultural programmes were held for entertainment," he said.

Jnanaprakash, a devotee said that Pongal is a harvest festival and it signifies prosperity. "A section of the people also consider Pongal as the beginning of the New Year. The festival is being celebrated by various lingual ethnic groups with different names. Pongal is Tamil culture. It has not much related to the religion. It is related to nature. In this part of India, it signifies the end of winter as the Sun changes its path. Earlier, Keralites, irrespective of their religious faith, used to celebrate Onam. Nowadays, that unity is disappearing among the Malayalam-speaking communities. Institutions like religion, language, culture, organisations are there to unite people. Pongal is another excuse to bind people together in a culture," he said.

'Positive change'

Arokiyadas, another devotee said that only recently, we celebrated Christmas and the New Year in the shrine and, hence this has become a festival season.

"The shrine premises is decked up traditionally with earthen pots and sugar cane. The faithfuls are in full attendance. It is nice to see them attend the festival mass in traditional dress. Some youth have come in white shirts and white dothis. The younger generation is respecting all cultures. They have a better understanding of culture and values due to their exposure to the information on the internet. This is a positive change," he said.

Annai Mary, a faithful, said that religion, language, and culture are three different things.

"Religion is related to faith in God. It is spirituality. A language is a tool for communication. Nowadays, we converse in multiple languages. However, we have a special attachment to our mother tongue as it was spoken by our forefathers. Culture is related to lifestyle. Our lifestyle depends on the climatic changes and the environment in which we live. Thus, Pongal is a part of our culture. It relates to our roots," she said.

Ex-Mayor Ayub Khan, who was felicitated during the celebrations, said that it was a good get-together for all people.

"People of other lingual and religious ethnicities were invited for the programme. It promotes better understanding among the people about each other's traditions and culture. Ultimately, it is aimed at unity in diversity. It was a meaningful event," he said.

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