Penang: The past quarter saw a cultural unity when three celebrations on the Sai calendar were held throughout the period. These were first of all the Ponggal (Harvest) Festival held at the Glugor Centre, the joint Chinese New Year Bhajans held at the North-east District centre and the Shivarathri overnight Bhajans held here at our centre.
The atmosphere was warm and welcoming at the Glugor Sai Centre where the Ponggal celebrations took place. Devotees from all the centres arrived, mostly clad in their traditional Indian costumes of Dhotis and Sarees.
Welcoming the guests that day were a group of children performing the traditional Kolattam, a traditional Indian dance at the entrance.
The main event started somewhere near noon when milk was boiled as a symbol of showing gratitude to the Sun God for taking care of the farmers' crops. Three different claypots were used as ladies from the three centres recited the famous phrase 'Ponggalo Ponggal as the milk boiled over. Then, rice and black sugar was added to make Ponggal.
This was followed by more cultural presentations by the children, a speech in Tamil on the days' significance by Mr. C.T. Ramasamy and lunch, with of course Ponggal.
______chinese new year
Crossing over to Farlim on the week of Chinese New Year, we once again saw an event of cultural attributes. The Chinese New Year bhajans started off at about 7.30 pm.
Unlike ordinary bhajans, this special bhajan was spiced up with Chinese folk songs usually sung during New Year.
The bhajan itself, consisting of Chinese and Sanskrit songs were powerful enough to create the happy and festive atmosphere for the day.
At the end of the bhajan, we were sort of entertained by the 'God of Prosperity.' Yes, it's true. An elderly uncle from the NED Centre, all dressed up to make anyone believe he was the God of Prosperity, came in as a surprise accompanied by sounds od fire crackers and himming music. He later presented angpows to children and youths. Now, that was entertaining.
After all that fun we get to a serious tone with Shivarathri. The festival was held in our centre and started at 7.00 pm. On this day devotees are supposed to stay up in symbolism of controlling their senses.
The event started off with Lingabishekam. Various things were poured on the Lingam symbolising sacrifice. Honey, Vibuthi and oil were among them. Then, every devotee poured milk on their part, thinking of something they want to sacrifice.
The night was further spiced up by a presentation by the youths on the origins of the ceremony. Later, the youths once again the youths took over and recited the Lingashtakam.
The bhajans went on till midnight when we stopped with Arathi. That left the devotees wondering whether they should go home and sleep or continue their quest to complete twelve hours of sleeplessness. SAILINE
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