Sun shines on London Tamil youth’s Pongal celebrations

Under the clear blue skies and sunshine of a frosty winter’s morning, members of TYO UK (Tamil Youth Organisation UK), celebrated the ancient Tamil festival of thanksgiving, Thai Pongal, this weekend.

Having completed morning Thai Pongal celebrations with their families at home, members came together, bearing traditional Tamil festive items such as maavillai, karumbu, thoranam, and most importantly, a mann paanai (clay pot), at expansive grounds overlooking Wembley football stadium in London.

Protecting the wood fire from a bitterly cold wind, members set up the pongal paanai, whilst some arranged a kumbam, others put up traditional Tamil decorations, and the artistically gifted created a kolam.

Keeping warm with regular cups of tea, the festive atomsphere was in full swing, as excitement of the pongal moment (the moment when the milk boils over the clay pot) grew.

As the milk began to boil and rise up, those nearest to the Pongal paanai called to the others, who rapidly gathered round in anticipation. Amidst cheers, laughter and the traditional calls of “Pongal-o pongal!”, TYOUK watched as the milk boiled over into the sunlight.

After the well-earned treat of pongal, karumbu (sugar cane) and wood apple was shared amongst everyone, members of TYOUK’s Sports Council, who had been busy drawing white lines across the grass, announced what everyone had been waiting to hear – a game of Kilithattu was about to commence.

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