Pongal Experience @ Joburg

As the Pongal day approached, I was wondering if this Pongal also going to be one more of those uneventful Pongals that I had in the past … and more so with me being in Johannesburg I was thinking the probability of it going that route was higher. Then I suddenly got a friends request on Orkut from Poornima who got me connected the Tamil community in Johannesburg. It was a start of a nice friendship and I also got to know that her husband also works for the same bank as I was working for in Joburg.
Poornima put me on to Seshan who was organizing the Carnatic Music Program for the Pongal Program. I decided to put my singing talent to some use. The Pongal program was to be organised on a weekend (17th Jan, 2010) as the pongal was falling on a weekday.
I went for a practice session on one weekend before that (at Seshan’s house) and I happened to meet the core organizing team (set of Tamil families settled in Joburg) and it was such a warm environment that first time I felt “at home” in Johannesburg. I also met Poornima and her husband Srinath there. After the practice, Poornima-Srinath invited me to their house for an evening snack. After that we went on to play a game of cricket. After years, I played cricket and it was so much fun to play with friends like them … I was really feeling at home and among close friends. Thanks again to Poornima for getting me connected.
On the actual Pongal day, 14th Jan, 2010, I was at Seshan’s house for a final round of practice with other singers and musicians: Charmine – female lead singer, Pooven Pillay – Complete musician (violinist and singer) and Venky (on Mrugangam). To my pleasant surprise, after the practice I was invited for a complete South Indian dinner – Aruchuvitta Sambaar, vegitable curry, Rasam, Curd rice and last but not the least Chakkara Pongal. I was so thrilled that its beyond words … Almost had happy tears :) .. Thanks Suchi for that wonderful dinner and making me feel so much at home!!
So on Sunday (17th Jan, 2010), it was a wonderful program. The program was organized at the Radhe Shyam Temple in Sandton. It started with the traditional cooking of Pongal in a pot … There was also a small Pooja while the pongal was cooking.
Pongal is a dish prepared with rice, dal, jaggery, dry fruits, sugar and milk. All these ingredients are traditionally cooked in a new clay pot in the open and allowed to boil over, signifying plenty and prosperity for the year ahead. At this point, everyone shouted “pongalo pongal ” in unison. Such a celebration I would probably not even get to see in India .. :)
The program started with a beautiful presentation by Chander, on how Pongal is celebrated in India. It was then followed by some programs of some kids … They were really cute in their fancy dress …
After that there was a Bharatanatyam program by some Local Tamil kids … part of a group called the Shivoham.
Then was the Carnatic Music program which I was a part of …
There was also a music program which depicted the tamil film songs right from the 50’s-60’s to the present. It was wonderfully rendered by Chander and a young Bengali girl … I was amazed at the skill with which she sang Tamil songs. Not to mention the wonderful voice Chander has …
There were some more dance programs where the ladies participated … It was also very nice but I missed taking photos because while I was enjoying the program my hands and mouth was busy enjoying the food from the stalls that were serving Puliodarai, Biryani, Vadai Sambar, Pongal and Curd Rice. Update: Adding pictures that i received from others to make up from the moment that I missed capturing … Will add more as and when I receive them … :)
It was a day filled with fun and frolic ended with a Game of Tambola (or housie). The program was wonderfully hosted by Srinath. Overall, the program was wonderfully arranged and executed. I felt like it was a great day where I spent time making some good friends and having a lot of fun. I hope to have many more such functions that I can be a part of in future.

12 comments:

Srinath said...

Beautiful..beyond Words..

Hariharan said...

Thanks a lot Srinath ...

Vish said...

Very well summarised.... And your performance was excellent too....

Rekha said...

Well Written...u missed takin our photos!

Hariharan said...

Yes Rekha ... As I said in the blog .. I was busy filling my tummy with food !! :) But if you share with me photos (hariharan.k@gmail.com) ... I would be glad to put it up on the blog !! :)

Hariharan said...

And Hey Vish ... Thanks a lot !!

Anonymous said...

Nice to see our traditional festival was celeberated in a traditional way from home far away home. You might be wondering who I am.,.. i used to haave similar fun in Joburg few years back and the memories are still green... wishing to the team who had put efforts a congratulations... Chandra Singapore

Hariharan said...

Thanks Chandra for your comments ..

Sowmiya said...

This is really nice.Nicely written.Can imagine such a festive outside India.Kudos to the entire team who made this happen..
And I can see my nephew in one of the snaps.You should be wondering who I am.This is sowmiya from Singapore(Poornima's SIL)

Poornima said...

Well written and kudos to your photographic skill once again.
Wish they had denied you food until the program ended..so tat u cud've taken more classics...and made rest of the participants also happy.
The dinner at suchi's house and you getting tears is so touching...and explains us how much you miss your wife.

wish this month is Feb.

Happy that you had a wonderful pongal both at Suchi's home and marlboro..
Yes it is the beginning of a good friendship and we(me & sri) felt comfortable with you and were too amazed by your patience to post a blog often...and this one is not an exception to one such wonderfully expressed note.

Hariharan said...

Thanks a lot Poornima and Sowmiya ... Your kind words mean a lot to me and encourage me to keep posting ... :)

kannan said...

I AM REALLY HAPPY THAT U ENJOYED PONGAL IN A VERY GRAND MANNER.V ENVY U.
KANNANS.(PARENTS OF SRINATH).