Pongal Open House to kick off in Little India on Jan 6, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Pongal Open House to kick off in Little India on Jan 6

Visitors to the annual Pongal Open House in Little India can expect to be welcomed by an array of immersive activities, including a heritage trail around Little India led by celebrity guests.

Organised by the Indian Heritage Centre (IHC), the festivities will be held across two weekends – on Jan 6 and 7, and Jan 13 and 14.

Pongal is a harvest festival that marks the start of spring, and is celebrated by Tamils, particularly in South India and the state of Tamil Nadu. In Singapore, the festival will be celebrated over four days from Jan 15.

Visitors can enjoy the sights and sounds of the festivities held in Little India on the trail, as well as learn about various foods and decorations related to Pongal. They can also look forward to seeing live cattle on display along the trail.

The 2024 edition of the Pongal Open House will include a slew of traditional performances and showcases, with IHC organising several new activities alongside its signature ones, which include tours to a Kranji farm. While some activities are free, others are ticketed with prices ranging from $10 to $18.

The centre has in previous years celebrated the festival in a variety of ways, including traditional Pongal pot painting workshops.

IHC general manager Maria Bhavani Dass said the activities held at IHC aim to make visitors appreciate and understand more about the festival in a museum setting, given that many activities are held within the centre itself. These include “Flutes in the Gallery”, a newly added performance that explores the cycle of harvest and nature through music and dance.

“By bringing the performance element of Pongal to the galleries, it helps people experience the museum culture along with it. It also helps them understand more about the festival and the community celebrating it,” she said.

There will also be a cooking demonstration on how to prepare pongal, the festival’s namesake dish. The sweet rice pudding is usually prepared at an auspicious time in a clay or brass pot. The contents of the pot are boiled over an open fire until they overflow, which symbolises prosperity and good fortune.

The cooking demonstration will be conducted by chef Annil Ravindran on Jan 14. The 30-year-old is the owner of Chemmeen SG, a catering company.

“It is my first year being involved in the celebrations, and I am super excited to be here. Pongal is a festival where we pay homage to the simplest of ingredients, and I am very happy to carry this tradition forward,” said Mr Annil.

The activities will be complemented by the Pongal light-up, which will be on display until Feb 6 in Little India.

The Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association will also be holding its own events to mark the harvest festival throughout January, including cultural shows and pongal distribution.

Readers can check out the Indian Heritage Centre’s website for more details, and to register for certain activities.