Auckland Tamil Association plans daylong Pongal Festival

At Mt Eden War Memorial Hall on January 30, 2021

Venkat Raman
Auckland, January 17, 2021

Auckland Tamil Association (ATA) will conduct a daylong Pongal Festival involving its members in a variety of competitions and activities with a grand finale dinner in the evening.

The Festival will be held on Saturday, January 30, 2021 at Mt Eden War Memorial Hall located at 489 Dominion Road, Mt Eden, Auckland.

The evening programme will commence at 530 pm and will include a demonstration of Indoor games that were popular in Tamil Nadu, speeches, cultural performances, prize-distribution and dinner. Ministers, Members of Parliament, community leaders and guests are expected to join the members of the Association to mark the final Pongal festivities.

Michael Wood (now Minister of Transport, Workplace Relations and Safety) and Dr Parmjeet Parmar (then National List MP) with Auckland Tamil Association Executive Committee members (from left) Arvind Kumar (Treasurer), Nagesh Nemani, Meenakshi Veerappan, Vai Ravindran (President), Murali Kumar (Secretary), Syed Kabir, Ganesh Kumar and Vel Murugan (Vice-President) at Pongal Festival 2019.

Kolam and Cooking Contest

‘Kolam’ is a symbolic representation of hospitality and piety of every household in Tamil Nadu. For thousands of years, women have performed this simple task of creating a design out of rice flour in front of their homes, welcoming Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity). It also served as a frontal decoration for a household.

In later years, the Kolam began to acquire larger dimensions, involving multiplicity of colours and other ingredients used at festivals and gatherings- again as a mark of piety.

However, this practice is fast disappearing with modern homes not affording proper frontage and increasing number of apartment-style accommodation.

ATA conducts the Kolam Competition as an annual activity, which serves as a reminder of this important facet of living.

Kolam Contest brings to the fore the creative talent of our women (ATA Pongal 2019)

Vice-President Vel Murugan said that the Contest evinces wide interest among the members of the community, bringing to the fore their creativity.

“The theme for this year’s Kolam Contest will be ‘Kanum Pongal,’ symbolising the bond of the family and friendship,” he said.

Delicious Tamil Cuisine

The annual Cookery Contest of the Association promotes awareness of the health benefits of traditional Tamil food items.

Mr Vel Murugan said that Tamil Nadu culinary art provides for immunity against many viruses and ailments but it is not widely known today, especially to people outside the State.

ATA 2019 Cooking Contest provided a wide range of Tamil Nadu Cuisine

“Healthy food prepared with the right ingredients can also strengthen the immune system of the human body, the importance of which should be realised as Covid-19 continues to grip most of the world. ‘Immunity Boosting Dishes with the use of appropriate spices’ will be theme of this year’s Cooking Contest,” he said.

Mr Vel Murugan said that an extensive range of spices is used in cooking food.

“While these were usually prepared at home, many Indian grocery stores (especially those dealing in South Indian spices) retail them in ready-to-use form. It is however important to use the right spices in the right quantity to boost immunity and health and also enhance taste. That would be the challenge for the contestants at the ATA Cooking Contest this year,” he said.

Contestants will be asked to prepare the following dishes (1) Kashayam -a herbal homemade concoction for good health (2) Thokku- a homemade pickle (3) Variety of Rice (4) Gravy, such as Sambar (5) Rasam (6) Smoothies and (7) Salads

Michael Wood (now Minister of Transport, Workplace Relations and Safety) tries his hand at the Slingshot (‘Kavan’) a popular sport used to chase birds and bring down fruits from trees at ATA Pongal 2019

Vibrant Pattimanram

Tamilians are known for their oratory skills and participate in debates, taking sides as competitors, arguing for or against issues. Known as ‘Patti Mandram,’ these events can be enlightening and entertaining, often encouraged on either side by the audience.

Such a Pattimandram will be a part of the ATA Pongal in the afternoon.

The theme of this year’s debate is ‘Aankal Perithum Magilchiyaga Iruppathu Veetila, Veliyila?’ (Are men largely happy at home or away from home?)

Further information can be obtained from Vai Ravindran on 027-2758266, Velmurugan on 022-4291730, Senthil on 022-3221243 or Aswini Swaminathan on 022-5085330.
(Pictures from Auckland Indian Association Website)

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