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Saturday, 13 January 2018 | MYT 12:00 AM

Well stocked for sweet beginnings

EARTHEN pots are filling the streets of Little India in both Klang and Brickfields in anticipation of the harvest festival of Ponggal, tomorrow.

The Tamil community will usher in the auspicious four-day celebration beginning with Bhogi, which falls on the eve of Ponggal, today.

Rarely celebrated in Malaysia, Bhogi involves the burning of old and unwanted goods in the household in the belief that this would bring about positive change and ward off diseases.

The more popular celebration, Ponggal, which takes place tomorrow, marks the start of the month of Thai on the Tamil calendar.

Ponggal is a day dedicated to the Sun God and prayers are usually done at sunrise.

The festival is traditionally celebrated outside the home, with a claypot placed underneath three sugarcanes tied to form a pyramid.

Claypots are stacked up in anticipation of the demand at a shop in Jalan Tengku Kelana, Klang — Photos: KK SHAM/The Star
Claypots are stacked up in anticipation of the demand at a shop in Jalan Tengku Kelana, Klang — Photos: KK SHAM/The Star

Milk is then cooked over a wood fire and it should overflow at sunrise, before rice, sugar and other condiments are added to create a sweet rice pudding.

The rice pudding, known as ponggal, is later served on banana leaf on a wooden platform as an offering to the Sun God, together with other religious items.

The third day of the festival, known as Mattu Ponggal, is dedicated to the cattle that play a vital role in assisting farmers to raise crops.

The final day of the celebration is dedicated to unmarried women and is seen as a day of relaxation and enjoyment.

According to Hindu Sangam president Datuk Mohan Shan, the beginning of the month of Thai this year is at 7.44pm.

However, he advised the community to conduct the Ponggal ritual in the morning.

Rani purchasing ingredients for her Ponggal sweet rice pudding.
Rani purchasing ingredients for her Ponggal sweet rice pudding.

“People are wondering if they should boil the milk in the evening. However, there is no auspicious time in the evening to do this,” said Mohan, adding the best time to boil the milk would be between 7.30am and 11.30am.

Munusamy says his shop has been turned into a one-stop centre for all Ponggal items as people prefer to shop at one place.
Munusamy says his shop has been turned into a one-stop centre for all Ponggal items as people prefer to shop at one place.

Seeing that Ponggal falls on a Sunday this year, Mohan believes many families will be celebrating the festival.

“I believe this year, many will be out shopping for new things, including earthen pots and ingredients for the sweet rice pudding,” he said.

True to his words, families were seen thronging Jalan Tengku Kelana in Klang yesterday morning.

Among them was Nisha Perumal, 27, who was looking at colourful claypots along with her mother Thanaletchumy Gopal, 62, and niece Thivanishaa Shanmugam, 3, at Sri Murugan Stores.

Nisha said their family was used to a grand celebration and this year would be no different.

Meanwhile, Rani Muniandy from Klang said she preferred a simple celebration as she was living in an apartment.

Trader Sony Haresh displays a famous traditional Indian delicacy, jelebi, that sells like hot cakes especially during the Ponggal weekend. — Bernama
Trader Sony Haresh displays a famous traditional Indian delicacy, jelebi, that sells like hot cakes especially during the Ponggal weekend. — Bernama

“We cannot boil the milk outside so we do it over a stove and offer prayers.

“However, it is a tradition for me to buy new pots each year,” she said.

Rani added that everything used for Ponggal would be new as well, a tradition she has followed for many years.

MV Fresh Market owner N. Munusamy, who has turned his shop in Jalan Tingkat Klang into a one-stop centre for all Ponggal related items, said he was expecting a crowd to come in today.

“People prefer to purchase everything in one shop as it saves time and energy,” he said.

Munusamy added that this year, many youngsters were coming to the shop in search of ready-made items such as ponggal mix as they were unsure of the ingredients that go into the milk pot.