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Pongal festivities off to a grand start

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INVOLVEMENT: A foreign tourist taking part in the cultural event at Uthangudi.
INVOLVEMENT: A foreign tourist taking part in the cultural event at Uthangudi.

R. Sairam

A large number of tourists take part in inaugural function

MADURAI: As the sounds from the ‘mirudangam’ 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 Madurai district annually by the State Tourism Department, the duration of this year’s celebration is doubled to four days owing to the highly positive response received the last year.

The inauguration was held at the Oriental Catering College. A large number of students, in the traditional attire of dhotis and saris, 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 festival. He said that Pongal was being celebrated in India for over 2,500 years. 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 light bonfire to celebrate the day and pray for a good year ahead.

A ‘classical’ start to the cultural events followed his briefing with a ‘Bharatnatyam’ performance rendered by dancer Harsha Vardhini. Folk arts performances by Somu and group 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) chose to describe the event. “We will be carrying memories of this event for quite sometime,” said Mr. Peter Hendricks who was born at Vishakapatinam in India where his father served in the British army.

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