Tamil Community “boiling over” with Thai Pongal

Photo Courtesy of Cassian Joseph

Profiling the diverse communities of Brampton

January is an important month for Tamil Canadians. Thai Pongal, the Tamil Harvest Festival and other Tamil artistic and cultural events take place in January. The Province of Ontario proclaimed the month of January as Tamil Heritage Month as a way of recognizing the valuable contributions that Tamil Canadians have made to Ontario’s social, economic, political and cultural fabric. Tamil Heritage Month is an opportunity to remember, celebrate and educate future generations about the role that Tamil Canadians play in communities across Ontario

The four-day Thai Pongal festival is celebrated from January 14 to 17th and dates back to over 1000 years. The festival’s name originates from the Tamil word Pongal meaning “boiling over” or “overflow”.  During the festival, milk is cooked in a vessel. When the vessel starts to overflow, freshly harvested rice grains are added to the pot. This is also when the sanggu (conch) is blown and family and friends shout “Pongalo Pongal”. The Pongal is served to everyone with sweets such as vadai, murukku, and paayasam.