Tamil Association calls for Pongal Day in Parliament

Venkat Raman

Youngsters managing the Tamil Association of New Zealand Inc (TANZI) have appealed to the New Zealand Government to observe ‘Pongal Day,’ in Parliament.

Secretary Pradeep Ravi made the appeal at ‘Tamilar Thiruvizha,’ organised by the Association at Mt Roskill War Memorial Hall in Auckland last evening (Saturday, January 26, 2019).

“While Diwali is widely observed, ‘Pongal’ is truly a celebration of Tamil-speaking people throughout the world. It is a festival of farmers marking the harvest season, and hence a community celebration. We request the New Zealand Government to mark ‘Pongal’ in Parliament,” he said.

He said that Canada, which has a sizeable Tamil population has declared January 14 as ‘Pongal Day’ and that the country’s Prime Minister Justine Trudeau attends Pongal celebrations and issues messages on the Twitter.

Written Petition submitted

Mr Ravi presented a written Petition along with Association President Sowndra Rajan Palanisamy to Michael Wood, elected Member of Parliament from Mt Roskill and Parliamentary Undersecretary to Ethnic Affairs Minister, who was the Chief Guest at the event.

“We also request the Auckland Council to allocate a venue to enable us to celebrate Pongal in all its glory and promote Tamil culture through such items as ‘Karagattam,’ ‘Oyillattam’ and ‘Thappattam.’ We will make this event a landmark in Auckland, which is one of the most culturally-diverse cities in the world,” he said.

Later, during an informal discussion, Mr Wood said that he will forward the Petition to the appropriate authorities for their consideration.

“Celebrating ‘Pongal’ seems appropriate given the fact that New Zealand also has an agro-economy and this Festival is really a form of Thanksgiving. I will do my best,” he said.

Official Launch of TANZI

Earlier, TANZI was officially launched by him and Dr Parmjeet Parmar, National Party List MP based in Mt Roskill at the function.

The Association also launched jute bags, encouraging people to use them since plastic shopping bags will be banned from supermarkets and retail outlets from July 1, 2019.

In their speeches, Mr Wood and Dr Parmar said that ‘Pongal’ brought joy and prosperity, as it denotes the dawn of better times. They also hoped that the new Association will fulfil its aims and objectives and bring together all Tamil-speaking peoples.

The event, which was attended by more than 350 men, women and children, feature classical and modern music and dances, recitation of couplets from ‘Thirukkural,’ one of the most versatile literary works in the world, quiz competitions and speeches.

Young talents to the fore

Several members and volunteers of the Association, participants in the outdoor games (including Kabaddi) and ‘Kolam’ competitions held earlier in the afternoon, musicians, dancers and others were honoured with gifts and certificates.

Notable among these were Sivaranji Sivakumaran and Kaveya Gajendran of ‘Rhythmic Thunder Dance School’ who performed ‘Kannum, Kannum Kalanthu,’ an energetic Bharata Natyam number from the 1958 Tamil film ‘Vanjikottai Valiban,’  Bharati Sonu Kumar and her group (with Ashriel Cabales and Jillan Piloton) who rendered an improvised version of ‘Blank Space’ by Taylor Swift and the Tamil number ‘Mental Manadhil’ (from the movie ‘OK Kanmani’) and ‘Thuli, Thuli’ (from ‘Paiya’), and Raisa Infreda and her group from the ‘Chennai City Gangzta Dance Academy,’ who performed a ’medley of Rajnikanth and Prabhudeva hits.

The Organising Committee comprised Aaron Samuel Joseph (Event Coordinator), Dinesh Raja and Gayathri Chandrasekhar (Masters of Ceremonies), Guhan Gunasekaran (Treasurer),

Hari Jawahar, Lakshmi Venkatesan, Muni Babu Udhayakumar, Pradeep Raj, Purusothaman Mahesh Babu, Rajaram Dass, Rajesh Krishnamoorthy, Sathya Saravanan (Master of Ceremonies), Surendran Sridharan and Tamil Maran Palanisamy.

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