Although once upon a time, the National Culture Policy officially defined Malaysian ‘culture’ as based on one society, Malaysia is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society. There are substantial influences from Chinese and Indian cultures that stem back from those early days of foreign trade. In the Malaysia of today, the traditions and cultural events of ‘all’ Malaysians has in recent years become more mainstream, with increased public celebrations that embrace an “All are welcome!” attitude.
In Langkawi, more and more cultural diversity is being added to the island’s listed festivals and events, encouraged by the tourist industry and increased private sponsorships. The Pongal Festival is in its third year of embracing the traditional Hindu celebration of thanksgiving to the Sun God Surya Deva, for the year’s crop harvest. With approximately 3000 Hindus actually residing in Langkawi, this annual event is becoming something of a proud celebratory moment among local factors.
The Pongal Festival is the only Hindu festival that actually follows a solar calendar, so it’s celebrated annually worldwide on January 14. The word pongal is derived from the Tamil word pongu: to boil over. Historically newly harvested rice grains are boiled in milk with additional treats added, such as cashews, raisins and ghee.
These concoctions heat up rather nicely looking a bit like a laboratory experiment. But that magic moment, when the pot ‘boils’ over will elicit the cries of Pongal! Pongal! and the beginning of the four day celebration is in full swing. Hindu devotees will consume to absolve their past sins, but it’s also a tasty authentic dish for even the less sinful to indulge in.
Previously, four local Hindu temples in Langkawi created their own Ponggal celebrations for their particular congregations; as well as local families having their own festivities. But this year’s 3rd annual event of Pongal Festival 2013 promises to bring this event even more to the front line of Langkawi cultural festivals. Pongal! Pongal!
Langkawi Pongal Festival 2013 will be held January 15, 2013
at Laman Padi, in Pantai Cenang (Cenang Beach) 9am-12pm.
For more information on Pongal festivals,check out PongolFestival.org