Accorded conventional reception; taken on a bullock cart ride

It was a unique experience for a group of tourists from foreign countries in the city on Wednesday as they were exposed to the Tamils’ culture and civilisation at a three-hour long ‘Pongal tourism’ celebrations organised jointly by the district administration and the Tourism department

It was a pleasant surprise for a group of 82 foreign tourists camping in private lodges to be invited for the celebrations.

All of them were taken to the Sri Ayyanar temple campus in Melur near Srirangam where they were accorded conventional reception with garlands and ‘thilakam’.

To the accompaniment of ‘nagaswaram’ and percussion instruments, they were taken by bullock carts and Jayashree Muralidharan, District Collector, who accompanied them, explained the importance of the festival and its cultural significance. A go-puja was performed signifying the importance of livestock on the second day of the festival.

The guests prepared ‘Pongal’ in seven pots, much to the joy of villagers and the officials present on the occasion. The dish was distributed to the tourists.

“This festival reflects our culture and we made special arrangements for bringing home the rural environment all through,” said Ramamurthy, District Tourist Officer. A rangoli contest was also held in which rural women exhibited their skill with various designs and colours. To drive home the rural ambience all around, ‘kili jothidam’, ‘marudhani’ decoration and dance recital by the students of the Srirangam Bharathanatyalaya, rural cultural programmes by the members of A.N.P. troupe in Thanjavur formed part of the celebrations.

The tourists were from different parts of the globe including Malaysia, Israel, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, France, New Zealand, Australia but the festival offered them an opportunity to understand the culture and civilisation of this part of the country, said Mr. Ramamurthy. Dance events such as ‘Oyilattam’ and ‘mayilattam’ attracted the foreigners.