SNM marks harvest fest with traditional fervor

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JEDDAH — The Senthamizh Nala Mandaram (SNM) a Tamil welfare organization based in Jeddah celebrated “The Harvest Festival — Pongal” at the Star Restaurant with the traditional pomp and pageantry in the first week of February.

The SNM committee members including Sheriff (President), Pandian, Mohideen, John and Charles welcomed the gathering and extended their Pongal greetings to the guests on behalf of SNM.

Pongal is a four-day harvest festival, which according to the Tamil calendar, is usually celebrated from Jan 14-17. The Pongal day coincides with Makara Sankranthi, a winter harvest festival celebrated throughout India.

It is a festival celebrated with a lot of vigor and merry making in almost every household. It is celebrated to commemorate the beginning of harvesting crops in the fields. Initially a festival of the farmers, now, Pongal is celebrated all over South India.

Thai Pongal, as it is called in the state as it falls during the month of Thai, is mainly celebrated to convey appreciation for a successful harvest. The primary celebration is the boiling of the first rice of the season. This festival is celebrated to show gratitude to nature.

The literal meaning of Pongal is “spilling over” and it had been named so, because of the tradition of boiling rice in a pot until it starts overflowing, symbolizing a bounty in harvest and everything in life.

SNM members congregated at the hall that was decorated with the tradition banana and mango leaves and marked the fest — signifying abundance and prosperity — in a festive spirit.

In addition to meeting and greeting of the families, and the cooking of the traditional rice in the clay pot painted in colored patterns also took place. The rice is cooked with cardamom, raisins, gram and cashew nuts and topped with milk, till it boils over.

Nearly all participants had gathered to celebrate this festival. They were welcomed with flowers, sweets and rose water. To the benefit of newcomers/guests, the committee members shared the glorious history of SNM, its value and its success stories.

The celebration started with a introduction of guests and expressing their love and affection to their family. The audience was treated to wonderful music, as the pot boiled with melodious renditions and other groovy songs making the guests tap to the beat, while some even danced merrily to the tune.

More interestingly, a debate on ‘Is social media a boon or bane’ was conducted by Mrs. Rabiyah Mohideen. The usual patri mandram (debate) of teams of 4 speaking for and against was replaced with a new format, with all joining in.

Each member, who wanted to speak, was given a minute to voice his opinion, and the eventual majority opinion carried the day. The participants debated thoughtfully and engaged the audience completely. Both events were truly interesting and exciting.

Early on, the guests were treated with South Indian Pongal (sweet rice) and Vadai (salty doughnuts) snacks organized by Habib. The evening transcended into late night, but everyone remained cheerful and energetic even till the wee hours as a series of singers kept the audience entertained.

Amidst continued music, dinner was served which included a blend of North and South Indian cuisine. Food was sumptuous, tasty and both children and adults relished the spread.

It was a well-organized event that provided a platform for social interaction and racial harmony, which is much needed to refresh, renew and move forward with vigor.

This event is yet another milestone of SNM, which serves the Tamil Diaspora in Jeddah and abroad whenever a need arises. The SNM is indeed an organization that can be relied upon for help. The SNM and its team members put forth extra time and effort to help those in need. More details of SNM is available on its website WWW.Sentamil mandram.com. Please feel free to join SNM, whose motto is ‘Together, we can achieve More’. — SG


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