As the sounds from the ‘Mridangam’ mirrored claps of thunder, the soothing notes flowing from the ‘nagaswaram’ provided the perfect pitch to welcome the dozens of foreign and domestic guests taking part in the inaugural function of Pongal Tourist Festival – 2010.
Being organised in the Madurai district annually by the State Tourism Department, the duration of this year’s celebrations were doubled to four days owing to the highly positive response received last year.
The inauguration function was held at the Oriental Catering College.
A large number of students, in traditional clothes, turned up to welcome the guests.
A brief inaugural function was held, in which Dinesh Ponraj Oliver, District Revenue Officer, formally kick-started the festivities. K. Dharmaraj, District Tourist Officer, also participated in the inauguration.
The former president of Travel Club G. Vasudevan elaborated to the sizable number of foreign tourists the significance of Pongal. He said that Pongal has been celebrated in India for over 2,500 years since 200 B.C. It was very popular during the time of Pallava Kings.
Pongal signifies the dawn of the new month of ‘Thai’ in the Tamil calendar and heralds the harvest season for farmers. Bogi Pongal is the day when farmers, after a good harvest, discard their old things and buy new items.
They also celebrate the day and pray for a good year ahead. A ‘classical’ start to the cultural events followed his briefing with a ‘bharatnatyam’ performance by dancer Harsha Vardhini. Folk arts performances by Somu and co. followed.
A sumptuous lunch proved to be the perfect finishing touch with the tourists enjoying the sweet Pongal dish.
A very colourful and diverse event was how Peter Hendricks (65) and his wife Maureen Hendricks (65) choose to describe the event. “We will be carrying memories of this event for quite sometime,” says Mr. Peter Hendricks who was born at Vishakapatinam in India where his father served in British army.