Details to be intimated to all hotels

Thirumalpuram in Chettikulam Union near Oomatchikulam in the district has been chosen to host this year's Pongal festival celebrations on January 16 being held exclusively for foreign tourists. An annual event being conducted for over 25 years now, the Pongal celebrations, organised by the State Tourism Department, have been attracting hundreds of foreigners every year. Official sources told The Hindu here on Wednesday that the event would be hosted jointly by the local villagers and ‘Samathuva Ilaignar Narpani Mandram.'

The villagers have evinced keen interest in the event. Details of the Pongal festival celebrations would be intimated to all hotels and tourism operators. Officials said that even though the location had been finalised close to Pongal, many foreigners were aware that such an event would be held in Madurai in January as it has been held for many years now. Along with Jallikattu, the Tourism Department function had also become part of foreigner's itinerary.

Outlining the events planned at Thirumalpuram, an official involved in planning the event said that the foreigners, after a traditional welcome with nagaswaram and garlands, would be taken to stoves and taught how to cook ‘Pongal' . Following which, Karagattam, Tappattam, ‘cycle karagam,' and Oyilattam would be held.

The foreign tourists would also be treated to a sumptuous traditional Tamil lunch in banana leaves.

The department changes the locations of these events every year to promote lesser-known places as tourist destinations.

While it was Keezhakuyilkudi in 2008, Thidiyan near Chellampatti was the venue in 2009 and in 2010, it was Thuvariman, a village in the Tirupparankundram Panchayat Union of the district.

The village of Tirumogur, famous for the Kalamegaperumal Temple, bagged the honour in 2011.

Interested foreigner tourists must arrive at the Tourism Office at West Veli Street here at 10 a.m. on January 16.

Further information could be obtained from the Tourism Office: (0452) 233 4757/232 1946.

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