TAMIL NADU

Pongal competitions, tool to bind people together

T. Saravanan

Residents' associations encourage community participation

MADURAI: No doubt `Pongal' is celebrated with verve everywhere. But what adds more sheen to the celebration is the community participation. An encouraging fact is the residents' associations of housing colonies showing keen interest in `pongal' celebrations. To cap it all, youngsters are egged on to involve themselves in organising them.

"It is more important to involve the youngsters in organising such functions. For, it builds their confidence and contributes to their personality development. Such programmes will also boost their organising ability," says K. Ramesh Kochimin, president, Thiruvalluvar Makkal Narpani Iyakkam, which encompasses more than seven housing colonies in Tiruppalai panchayat.

The functions are conducted for one to three days during which fun-filled games and sports are conducted.

"We are celebrating `Samathuva pongal' for three days at our colony, where we welcome all our residents, irrespective of caste and creed, to participate in the programmes," says M. Meenakshi Sundaram, advisor of the association

Ranging from competitions for children, including drawing, essay and fancy dress, to those for the elders such as sugarcane peeling, ideal couple. Moreover, programmes such as debate, music and cultural performances are also thrown in to enthral the residents

"It is an ideal way to bring people together. Sometimes, in the name of sophistication, people may prefer to stay indoors shunning their neighbours. We want to break the shackles and draw them out to mingle with the crowd. It is a way of promoting inter-personal relationship," says Mr. Ramesh, who is also the ward councillor.

Social activities

Motivating the public assumes more significance as their social responsibility increases. Some associations organise free medical camps for their residents. While others conduct tuition classes for the students appearing for board examinations.

Such community participation is a step towards integrating people from all walks of life. Besides it also inculcates a sense of belonging in them.

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