Pongal? Have you heard of this festival before? What exactly is Pongal and how much do you know about this festival? Pongal is a 4 days harvest festival celebrated by the Tamil community, it usually falls on the 14th and 15th of January every year. At the Indian Heritage Centre (IHC), they are celebrating Pongal Festival with its cultural activities, workshops and trails at the IHC Pongal Open House 2022.

One of the events that I attended was the IHC Pongal Evening Trail, I heard it was very popular and in demand. After attending this trail organised by IHC, I began to understand why it was so popular. Not only did I have a fun time, I had an informative, enriching learning time and an interactive hands on Pongal cultural experience too!  

IHC Pongal Evening Trail

Introduction to Pongal

Starting off at Indian Heritage Centre (IHC), we were first introduced to Pongal Festival with a tour of the exhibits on display. 

Pongal is a 4 days harvest festival celebrated by the Tamil community, to give thanks to Surya, the Sun God for the blessings of a bountiful harvest. The exhibits on display and the write up were informative and easy for visitors to learn and understand more about Pongal Festival. 

4 Days of Pongal

Day 1 – Bhogi Pongal

The first day of Pongal is called Bhogi. A day of cleaning and discarding old belongings to mark a fresh start. New clothes are worn, houses are decorated for the festivities. 

Day 2 – Surya Pongal

The second day is the main day of Pongal and is celebrated as Surya Pongal. The colourful decorative floor patterns are called Kolam, these are drawn at the entrance of the home. Each household cooks a pot of fresh rice with milk. 

Day 3 – Maatu Pongal

The third day is known as Maatu Pongal. On this day, it’s devoted to honour and worship the cattle (Maatu). The cows are bathed and decorated flower garlands and bells. 

Day 4 – Kaanum Pongal

The fourth day is known as Kaanum Pongal, a day of family reunions and visits, accompanied by sumptuous meals, strengthening family and community ties. 

A more detailed write up about Pongal Festival can be found on IHC’s website article and IHC instagram video!

Pongal Walk through bustling Campbell Lane

After the introduction to Pongal, we were led outside to the bustling and lively Campbell Lane for a Pongal Walk. The guides were very helpful in sharing with us the various items on sale outside the shops along Campbell Lane, their significance and importance for the Pongal festival. 

We can feel the hustle and bustle of Pongal festival as well as its festive shopping. Spot the colourful earthen pots used for the boiling of the traditional dish pongal, the tall sugar cane stalks that were lined up along the shops at Campbell Lane. You can’t miss the fresh turmeric and ginger stalks too!

We also walked to Serangoon Road, for a quick view of the bright and colourful Pongal Light Up along Serangoon Road. Thereafter, we walked back to IHC for a hands-on and very fun interactive workshop.

Hands-on and very fun interactive workshop

Creating a Pulli Kolam

I saw beautiful and colourful traditional decorative artworks drawn on the floor outside homes. I didn’t know the name of this traditional cultural artwork until I was at this IHC Pongal Evening Trail event interactive workshop. This is known as Kolam, drawn using rice flour. We had a short hands on session by our wonderful trail guides teaching and demonstrating to us how to create a Pulli Kolam, along with the help of step by step pictures.  

It may look easy to you, it was quite a handful challenge for me, maybe that’s why I am not really that good in arts and craft! Hearing from the sharing by our guides on the cultural aspects and stories of creating a Pulli Kolam, widely practised by female family members in front of their house, it’s enriching and enlightening to hear those cultural stories and significance behind such practices. 

Learning the art of tying Thoranam 

I had seen this hanging decoration before outside homes and at Little India, I didn’t know much about this cultural significance until I attended IHC Pongal Evening Trail event. This hanging decoration is known as Thoranam, the participants learnt the art of tying Thoranam, the historical and cultural meanings behind this, used for happy occasion or mourning for people who visit that place.

Learning a traditional Indian Folk Dance Kollattam (Stick Dance)

Kollattam, also known as Stick Dance, is one of the traditional Indian folk dances. This is a very popular folk dance in Indian Culture, a rural art performed during village festivals with sticks. We were taught simple dance movements by our event hosts/guides, soon we were clapping before taking up the sticks and dancing away.

This was definitely one of the highlights from IHC Pongal Evening Trail that the participants thoroughly enjoyed that evening! I managed to move to and fro, in between learning Kollattam and taking photos of the group in action! 

At the end of the IHC Pongal Evening Trail event, we all had a great learning, interactive, fun and enjoyable time!

Pongal Open House 2022 at Indian Heritage Centre

Plan a visit to Indian Heritage Centre for its Pongal Open House 2022! You can discover how Pongal is celebrated in Singapore, check out the cultural activities, workshops and trails at the IHC Pongal Open House 2022.

Dates: 8th to 16th January 2022

Visit Indian Heritage Centre!

For more information and updates on Indian Heritage Centre, please visit and check them out on their social media platforms below:

Website: https://www.indianheritage.gov.sg/en 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/indianheritagecentre 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/indianheritage_sg/ 

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/IndianHeritageCentre 

Address: 5 Campbell Lane, Singapore 209924 

Explore Our Own Backyard – Visit Heritage Institutions and Museums 

Although we may not be travel overseas as much and as freely due to the ongoing global pandemic situation, along with the various restrictions and measures in place in different parts of the world. 

This would actually be an excellent time to explore our own backyard (Yes, Singapore can have a domestic tourism sector too!), such as visiting Heritage Institutions and Museums in Singapore! While there is no doubt that Singapore is definitely a country small in land size, she has her own rich history, heritage, culture and diversity at the various Heritage Institutions and Museums.  

I have been covering museums, from exhibitions and various events. A few years back, I started covering and sharing on the Heritage Institutions, from exhibitions to the various events that they organised. I am working on expanding my coverage in this segment. 

If you haven’t been doing so, take the time to visit Singapore’s various Heritage Institutions and Museums, there are so many more history, heritage and cultural lessons and experiences that you can learn and enjoy. 

Wishing all a Happy Pongal! May this Pongal Festival brings you prosperity and happiness to you and your family! 

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