14 Jan A feast of festivals
With a blend of cultures and religions, Sri Lankan is home to a myriad festivals, many celebrated with special dishes.
Each year, on January 14, the island’s Tamils mark Thai Pongal – a harvest festival.
Pongal means Spillover. This festival is held in honour of the Sun for a bountiful harvest in the ensuing year.
Families gather together to rejoice and share their joy and harvests with others. An offering of “pongal” rice and milk is made.
The traditional way of cooking the pongal is the yard is cleaned and prepared days ahead and sweet snacks are prepared ahead.
On the day of the pongal, very early in the morning everyone has a bath and wears new clothes.
Then family members draw a decoration on the floor, usually in the front of the house, with white and brown rice flour.
This is known as a Kolam and defines the sacred area where the pongal is to be prepared. This area is set up in direct view of the Sun (East). Within this area, firewood is used to cook the rice.
The rice and milk when cooked is supposed to spill over – the spillover being a symbol of abundance.
Once the pongal is prepared it is offered to the Sun and everyone then partakes of the meal.