A season of renewal. A celebration of abundance.
An occasion to honour. A time of thanksgiving.
Pongal is an ancient Indian harvest festival dating back almost 2000 years. Held over four days, it is more than an
agrarian festival; it is a celebration life. Still celebrated by the Indian community here in Singapore, Pongal heralds
new beginnings and is an important reminder of our cultural roots.
Click on each of the Fab Four days of Pongal to find out more:
Beyond the Fab Four days of Pongal, our celebrations in Singapore run from 9 January to 14 February 2021.
Do check out our full lineup of festive activities; everyone is welcome to join in!
Celebrated by South Indians to mark the rice harvest, Pongal festivities start with Bhogi – a day of thanksgiving to the Hindu Lord Indra for rain and agricultural success.
In both India and Singapore, cleansing and renewal are big themes for Bhogi, with old possessions discarded and replaced by new ones to mark new beginnings.
Surya Pongal is the main highlight and honours Surya, the Sun god. Traditionally, a clay pot (pongal panaai) filled with newly harvested rice and milk is set to boil on an earthen stove. As the pot froths and overflows, people cry “pongalo pongal!” – “May the rice boil over!”
With most families in Singapore living in high-rise flats, pongal is still boiled, albeit over gas or electric stoves. The resulting pongal pudding is distributed to all family members, relatives, and guests. Offerings are also made at local temples.
Mattu Pongal celebrates the cattle that work the land alongside humans. In India, farmers bathe and adorn their cattle with painted horns and garlands, and compete in Jallikattu, a contest to tame a wild bull.
In non-farming Singapore, cows can be seen in murals and art around the Little India district. In recent years, live cows have even been brought to Little India from one of the few local dairy farms for the festival.
The fourth day, Kaanum Pongal, is all about reconnecting with loved ones. Families gather and visit each other, exchanging gifts and blessings with younger members paying respects to their elders.
Here, families may also sometimes choose to head out together to enjoy the festivities in Little India or at various community centres across the island.