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Pongal Festival: Celebrating the Harvest in Little India 2019

Hindu dancing, rhythmic​ music in Tamil temples, collective cooking and festive bazaar constitute Pongal harvest celebration

Pongal Festival: Celebrating the Harvest in Little India in Singapore - Best Time
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© Choo Yut Shing

If you hear rhythmic Hindu music made by the sounds of Indian bells, clarinets, conch shells and drums, playing over the Hindu temples which are scattered across the city, it means that Singaporean Tamils celebrate the harvest festival known as Pongal festival.

The highlights involve traditional dancing, cooking demonstrations and, above all, festive bazaar offering Indian crafts and arts, and outfit and jewellery. In addition to cultural performances, a number of foreign artists entertain the attendees during the harvest festivities. Through these various festive Hindu merriments, ​they express their gratitude for the past year's harvests.

The city numbers 200,000 Tamils, making their community the third largest cultural group in Singapore. Pongal festival belongs to one of the most important events in the Tamil calendar. The name comes from the Tamil word ‘pongu’, meaning ‘to boil over’ or ‘flourish’; during the celebrations you will see the traditional filling of a clay pot with fresh rice and milk, adding ginger, turmeric, brown sugar, cashew nuts, raisins and ghee as it cooks. Once it boils, people shout 'pongollo pongal', meaning 'may this rice boil over' in Tamil as a wish for upcoming fortunes. Head to the Campbell Lane in Little India for great celebrations and festivities.

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