(EDS: Incorporates festivities in Puducherry) Chennai/Puducherry, Jan 15 (PTI) The Tamil harvest festival Pongal was celebrated with usual fervour across Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Puducherry with people ushering in the auspicious Tamil month of ‘Thai’.
Chants of ‘Pongal-o-Pongal’ rent the air in many a home as the milk boiled, symbolising the gushing of prosperity.
People decorated their homes with mango leaves and strings of flowers.
Special prayers were held at temples.
This year, the AIADMK government had distributed gift hampers containing raw rice, sugar, raisins, cashew nut, cardamom and sugarcane to all cardholders to celebrate the harvest festival, in an effort to mitigate the impact of cyclone Gaja in the Cauvery delta and drought in the northern districts.
The ingredients are used in the preparation of the sweet delicacy ‘Pongal’.
President Ramnath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister K Palaniswami and DMK president and Leader of Opposition M K Stalin greeted people.
Purohit celebrated the festival with the villagers of Sathurangapattinam in Kanchipuram district while Palaniswami took part in the festivities in his native Salem.
The famed bull-taming sport of jallikattu was also held in Madurai coinciding with Pongal, with a number of eager volunteers participating in it.
Meanwhile, Palaniswami greeted Purohit.
“I have great pleasure in conveying my best wishes and greetings to you, the First Lady and all the members of your family for a very happy Pongal and Sankaranthi,” he said in a message to the Governor.
In Puducherry, the festival was celebrated with pomp and gaiety, as people, both young and old, attired in new clothes exchanged greetings.
The residents of the former French colony visited temples to offer prayers on the occasion.
Newly-made earthen pots, sugarcane and other festival-related farm products were selling like hot cakes in most parts of the town and in the peripheral areas.
As the arrival of sugarcane in large numbers from distant villages and neighbouring Tamilnadu created a traffic snarl in and around the markets, police began to control the traffic and restricted movement of vehicles.
Territorial Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy and assembly Speaker V Vaithilingam, and leaders of different political parties, Ministers and Members of Parliament greeted the people.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.