In the rush and stress of urban life, we often forget about the ancient customs and traditions associated with our festivals. In fact, one of the common complaints of parents living in apartment complexes in cities is that their children are unaware of their roots and culture. Yet another complaint often heard is that city living has cut the links that develop between members of a community.
Have a communal Pongal celebration in the apartment complex is a good way to solve these problems. Children get to know more about their culture even as their parents learn to interact and develop friendships with their neighbors.
Tips for Planning Pongal Celebrations
(i) Pongal is a four day festival. While it might not be possible to evoke a good response to an event stretching out over four days – give the hectic pace of urban life – plan to have at least a two day celebrations to create a true impact.
(ii) The first day of Pongal, known as Bogi, is normally marked by a pooja and a bonfire. The bonfire in the evening can be made into a community event.
(iii) Make arrangements for the bonfire well in advance. Keep one person in charge of the entire event. Designate a safe area for the bonfire, which is away from parked cars and other fire traps. Involve children in the activity of building the bonfire. Also ensure that safety precautions are in place. Check that fire extinguishers are in working order.
(iv) On the second day of Pongal celebrations – the Surya Pongal – arrange for women in the apartment complex to draw kolams. Get children involved in the activity, so that they learn about this tradition. Some apartment complexes even arrange group kolam competitions.
(v) Cooking the pongal can also be an event where all the residents in the complex participate. This again adds to the excitement and fervor of the occasion.
(vi) A community lunch can be organized. The residents of the apartment complex should be encouraged to bring in one dish each for the lunch. This will again involve a lot of planning and interaction – which is the point of holding Pongal celebrations in your apartment complex!
(vii) Have special events for the children. A quiz competition regarding Pongal traditions, a exhibition of Pongal Panai pots painted and decorated by the residents and a cultural program are just some of the ways to get children involved more actively in the celebration. These activities will also build up a special atmosphere in the apartment complex and add to the sense of festivity.
(viii) The success of the Pongal celebrations in your apartment complex will depend on the degree of participation. It is therefore essential that the event is well planned taking everybody’s suggestions and ideas. Discussions should be held and responsibilities assigned to make sure that the event goes off smoothly.
Group celebrations can reduce the feeling of alienation that people living in apartment houses often experience – and Pongal is definitely a good reason to celebrate!
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