Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pongal Festival and Chinese New Year

Singapore is a multi-racial country, so we get to interact and share festivals and participate. Here are some photos I took at a little Indian gathering at our neighbourhood last Sunday.

The event ? The Harvest Festival, or the Pongal Festival, which was originally in celebration of a good harvest in South India, where farming is the main form of livelihood. Here in Singapore, the Pongal Festival welcomes the beginning of the 10th Tamil month, called Thai, which falls in mid-January each year.

At the gathering, we saw how Pongal rice, sweet sticky rice where milk, rice and sugar are boiled together, was prepared. Also, a number of Indian families were patiently drawing Pongal Kolam designs using coloured crushed rice (I counted, they used 5 to 6 colours only). I couldn't resist doing a little research into these pretty drawings. There are line kolams, using free hand drawing of lines to make geometrical pattern, and pulli (dots) kolam, where dots are arranged in a specific sequence and order; these pullis joined to make pictorial designs. In the pulli kolam type, there is an another type called Chuzhi kolam, where twisted chains are formed by linking one loop with the next and forming designs with the basic pattern.

The other highlight was the presence of a cow, Letchmi, and calf, Veena. Adults and children alike were excited and all went up front for a close encounter and photos, it was really a rare chance to be up so close with farm animals in an urban place like Singapore!

If you are interested, this website has quite a bit of info on the Pongal Festival:

Following closely after the Indian festival is a Chinese festival - the Chinese New Year or the Chinese Lunar New Year, which is the longest and most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is known as the "Spring Festival," the literal translation of the Chinese name 春节. The festival begins on the first day of the first month (正月) in the traditional Chinese calendar and ends with the Yuan Xiao Festival (元宵节) or Lantern Festival on the 15th day. Rice dumplings tangyuan (汤圆), a sweet glutinous rice ball brewed in a soup, is eaten this day. In Singapore, this day is celebrated by individuals seeking for a love partner, a different version of Valentine's Day.

People will pour out their money to buy presents, decoration, material, food, and clothing. It is also the tradition that every family thoroughly cleans the house to sweep away any ill-fortune in the hope to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red colour paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity". On Chinese New Year's Eve (除夕), Chinese families gather for their annual reunion dinner. Food will include such items as pigs, ducks, chicken and sweet delicacies. The family will end the night with firecrackers (not in Singapore though since it is banned). Early the next morning, children will greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year, and receive money in red paper envelopes. The Chinese New Year tradition is a great way to reconcile; forgetting all grudges, and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone.

According to legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the Nien (年). Nien would come on the first day of New Year to devour livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children. To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year. It was believed that after the Nien ate the food they prepared, it wouldn’t attack any more people. One time, people saw that the Nien was scared away by a little child wearing red. The villagers then understood that the Nien was afraid of the colour red. Hence, every time when the New Year was about to come, the villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nien. From then on, Nien never came to the village again.

Wow, I have written so much, I'll keep the rest short, just eye candies. Here's my W is for Whale ATCs with tatted blue whales.

I received more ATCs than I'm working on! First is this pair of Time/Watches/Clocks dolls from Margie Diamante (USA).  BTW, I just changed to a new blogger editing format and just don't understand why my portrait photos are turning up the wrong way, and it's so frustrating :(  Do you have the same problem? 

Here are U for Upholstery, V for Violet and W for Winter from Jenna Louise (USA).

And last but not least, a pair of snow angels from Lynette McNamara (New Zealand).  Lynette stamped, embossed and coloured her cards so well, her cards are as good as printed ones!

Thank you gals, I love all these arts in the mail!


Miranda said...

This was a very educational post. Thank you for sharing your cultural festivals with us!

Ann said...

thanks for stooping by my blog..saw the link you left! This is a great post and the pictures are wonderful!! your atc's are beautiful!!!!

Val said...

great writeup on the indian and chinese cultures!

Mr Lonely said...

nice blog... have a view of my blog when free.. .. do leave me some comment / guide if can.. if interested can follow my blog...

Tammy said...

Happy Chinese New Year! How fun with all of the festivities. Your tatting is amazing! I just went through your blog looking at all of the wonderful ATC's you've made. WOW, is all I can say. Love all of it. Thanks for stopping by to introduce yourself in my OWOH giveaway.
from South Carolina, USA

michelle said...

What a wonderful blog you have here ! love your atc's. so nice of you to stop by my blog i appreciate it !

take care

Christa said...

Love reading your blogs. Makes my memory come alive again. Love your explanations. Thanks. I am in January now and going backwards. Lots more reading to be done.

Singtatter said...

Hi Christa, great to know you have enjoyed reading the posts :)