UAE: More than 2,000 Tamil expats celebrate Pongal with pomp, fervour

The festivities began by 8am with the women dressed in traditional saris and sitting on the ground, preparing the customary Pongal


A Staff Reporter

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Published: Sat 14 Jan 2023, 11:15 AM

More than 2,000 expats from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu celebrated the harvest festival of Pongal with a variety of day-long colourful cultural events in Abu Dhabi.

Women, men and children clad in traditional outfits sang, danced and participated in several fun-filled activities and competitions held by the ‘Amalgamation of Tamil’ associations at Khalifa Park in the city.

The festivities began by 8am with women dressed in traditional saris and sitting on the ground, preparing the customary Pongal (a porridge like dish) in a pot by using dry wood as a fuel.

Later, they made ‘Kolam’ design, a traditional form of decorative art made by using rice flour on the floor. It was the first of several competitions on the day, which included folk dances, vegetable carvings, fun games like sack jumping, lemon spoon race and tug of war evoking nostalgia for communities, who were all getting together for such a festival for the first time since the pandemic.

A sumptuous lunch was followed by Tamil cultural and musical performances, which saw active participation from everyone with programmes running till 7pm.

“It was an amazing atmosphere with hundreds of people marking the festival with great joy and happiness. Holding such events helps to create awareness among children about the rich Tamil culture and heritage,” noted Dr Balaji Ramaswamy, Counsellor, Indian Embassy, Abu Dhabi.

“This has been indeed a great pleasure and honour to participate in such a wonderful event,” said Dr Ali Abdul Kareem Al Obaidli, Chairman, UAE National Transplant Committee, and Chief Academic Affairs Officer, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA).

“I am very happy to see such a large gathering of people enjoying and celebrating their traditional festival,” said Reem Al Breiki from the National Programme for Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation.

Among other attendees were D. Natarajan, president, India Social and Cultural Centre, Abu Dhabi, and dignitaries like Shahul Hameed, Dr Ansari and office bearers of various associations.

Dr Ravichandran Subbaraj, the organising head of the festival, said all members worked as a team to make the day a grand success.

“The sole aim of celebrating the festival is to take forward our cultural heritage to the next generation. Even as we live and thrive in our second home, our children must not forget their roots,” added Dr Ravichandran, specialist orthopaedic surgeon, NMC Royal Family Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi.


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