In tune with its reputation and popularity as a vacation destination, tourists particularly foreigners provided a fitting finale to the four-day Pongal festivities in this hill station on Wednesday.
Participating with a great deal of enthusiasm in the Pongal festival organised by the Department of Tourism and the district administration at the Boat House, they danced and sang with a cultural troupe of the local Badaga community. Some of them even helped in the preparation of pongal and sundal, the delicacies associated with the festival.
While all the tourists were of the view that their participation in the ‘Pongal Thiruvizha’ was a highlight of their visit to the
Nilgiris, Bob and Jo Emerson, an elderly couple from England, described it as a ‘wonderful experience’.
Speaking to The Hindu , they said, “We have travelled all over the World but have not experienced anything like Ooty and the festival. We love to see other cultures and how people express their faith in God,” they said.
Adverting to the other aspects of the hill station which had made their maiden trip to the place memorable, they said that they had enjoyed a ride on the toy train (Nilgiri Mountain Railway) between Coonoor and Mettupalayam. However it would have been better if the train had been hauled by a steam locomotive instead of a diesel engine and it had been equipped with public convenience.
They also lamented that though the Nilgiris has been declared as a plastic-free district there are “lots of plastic even in plastic-free zones”.
The festival was inaugurated by the Chairman, Udhagamandalam Municipal Council, K. Sathyabama. Among those present were the District Revenue Officer in-charge S. Chandrashekar and the Deputy Superintendent of Police G.S. Anita. The District Tourist Officer S. Dorairaj welcomed the gathering. Distribution of pamphlets, which highlighted the significance of Pongal, marked the occasion.