Tourists from several countries converge at Thirumalpuram
For Pongal celebrations, villagers usually entertain relatives and guests but this year, Thirumalpuram village in Chettikulam panchayat union near Oomatchikulam in Madurai district hosted guests from overseas for the celebrations.
The village was chosen by the Tourism Department and from the moment the guests stepped out of the buses, they were swept off their feet by the hospitality and warm affection of the villagers.
Starting off with a traditional welcome encompassing the ‘aarthi,' garlands and a nagaswaram performance, the foreign tourists had the ride of their life in bullock carts. Some even tried to steer the cart, with help from the locals. Upon arriving at the venue, several foreigners tried their hand in cooking ‘pongal' dish with great eagerness.
Tim Ruff (25), a student from Germany who is in India on an internship, said, “The event is a good way to showcase local culture. The martial arts and the other performances were really exciting.” He added that this was his first visit and he would like to return for next year Pongal celebrations.
Terming the elaborate welcome arrangements as very enjoyable, Rose May (45), from Germany, said that the dances and other events were fabulous. Appreciating the amount of work gone in organising these performances, she also lauded the hospitality of the locals.
While the event started off with folk arts and dances, what followed had the audience in the edge of their seats as the artistes performed some daring tricks with fire. After the events, the foreigners were treated to a sumptuous lunch served on banana leaves.
According to District Tourist Officer K. Dharmaraj, the event included performances like ‘Oyilattam' by Sri Chakkarathalwar Troupe; ‘Karagattam' by Othakadai Raju; ‘Tappattam' by Panaiyur Raja, martial arts performance by ‘Madurai' Ravi and other performances by ‘Maddapuram' Karupiah troupe. A local woman self-help group also put up a ‘Villupattu' performance. Madurai East MLA K. Tamilarasan took part in the celebrations.
Over 200 foreign tourists from countries such as Italy, France, Germany, England, Australia, Canada, Holland, Israel, Belgium, New Zealand and Austria came for the event.