Pongal & Tamil New Year Controversy

25 February – Petaling Jaya

“Tamil New Year is in Chittirai and Pongal is a Hindu religious festival!” says Malaysia Hindu Sangam and 13 main Hindu Organisations in Malaysia.

On, 19 February, Malaysia Hindu Sangam and 13 main Hindu organizations in the country came up together to declare and reiterate that the Tamil New Year is on the 1st of Chittirai and Pongal is a Hindu religious festival.

As alleged by some groups and individuals, Malaysia Hindu Sangam does not Hinduise the Pongal festival. The truth is Pongal is indeed a Hindu festival for Lord Surya. Tamil farmers pay their gratitude to Lord Surya by offering the first paddy crops cooked as sweet Pongal. Lord Surya is one of the main deities since the Vedic period. The worship of Surya is known as Sauram. Apart from the Hindus, no other major religion in the world worships the Sun. Though over the period of time, people of other religions have started celebrating the Pongal festival, in no way, this could alter the truth that Pongal is a Hindu festival. Therefore, the allegation that Malaysia Hindu Sangam is changing Pongal into a religious festival is baseless. 

In Hinduism, nature is divinised and worshipped since time immemorial. Hinduism is a way of life. It is hard to draw a dividing line between culture and religion. Tamil culture and way of life are intrinsically Hindu. The aim of every Hindu rite and ritual is to attain perfection. For a Hindu, life is one continuous journey from birth to death where everything, such as art, culture, science, philosophy, morals, and ethics are well-programmed to lead him or her towards to final beatitude.

Ample evidence is found in Tolkappiyam, Sangam literature, and Thirukkural, to name a few, that religion was the backbone of the Tamil people. Tamil and the Hindu faith are inseparable. Wherever the Tamils travelled in ancient times, they took their religion with them and enriched the culture of the land with religious and spiritual thoughts. However, in recent years, attempts were made by certain people to separate the Hindu religion from the Tamil language. They often forget that the richest Tamil treasures are found in the Tamil Thevaram, Thirumurai, and Divya Prabandham. Furthermore, Tamil history cannot be studied without the support of this religious literature. It is nothing but self-denial to reject religion from Tamil history. It is high time that the Tamils wake up to the false propaganda to separate Tamil from their true history.   

No other religion claims Pongal as their festival, though people of other religions practice it as part of their culture. Openminded Hindus allow others to take part in their celebration. But why should the Hindus alter their festival to suit everyone? Why should the Tamil Hindus accommodate everyone by sacrificing their religious identity?

Ironically, the Hindu children who go to Tamil schools are taught that Pongal is a cultural festival unrelated to religion. Such false indoctrination of Hindu children must be stopped immediately. 

In India, there are some who try to convert the Hindus using Tamil as a tool. For the past hundred years, Tamils were subjected to every kind of Hindu hatred through various mediums. Camouflaging as saviours of the Tamil people and Tamil language, there are some who openly condemn the Hindu religion.

The Tamil Hindus in this country should not fall prey to such cheap politics to divide the language and the religion of the people. Ancestors of the Tamil Hindus have always known the first day of the Chittirai month as their New Year and not Pongal, when they offer gratitude to the Sun god.

As per the science of Jyotisha, Mesha is the first house. It is the starting point and thus confirms that 1st Chittirai is the 1st day of the year.

Chittirai 1st is also the day the Tamil traders and businessmen open their accounts for the year. Tamil literature too speaks of Chittirai as the beginning of the year. It is an established tradition in all Hindu temples that the 1st of Chittirai is celebrated with special worship while the 1st day of Thai is celebrated by offering sweet Pongal to God. Though the month of Thai is highly praised in Tamil literature, nowhere it is mentioned as the New Year.

There are claims that in 1935, 1st of Thai was declared as the Tamil New Year at Pacchaippan College, in Tamil Nadu in the presence of 500 delegates. However, the records show that the said event was attended by less than 50 people, and the renowned Tamil scholar, Maraimalai Adikal was not present. The published diary of Maraimalai Adikal is proof that on that date, he was in Sri Lanka!

Another often-quoted line of Barathidasan, “Hey sleeping Tamila, Chittirai is not your New Year!” is not found in any of the great poet’s works! Till now, no one has shown evidence for that line except parroting it on stages and books.

To reiterate, Malaysia Hindu Sangam and the Hindu organisations in this country will no longer remain silent to the false claims and propaganda to separate Tamil and its rich Hindu history. Dharma will be upheld through the Tamil language!

Joint Action by:

1.    Malaysia Hindu Sangam

2.    Hindu Sevai Sangam

3.    World Hindu Council

4.    ISKCON

5.    Malaysia Hindu Dharma Mamandram

6.    World Hindu Federation

7.    Malaysia Muruga Bhakti Peravai

8.    Pertubuhan Atmavidya Vanam

9.    Sri Shakti Devasthanam Temple, Bukit Rotan

10. Panniru Thirumurai Valarchi Maiyam

11. Sri Subramaniar Kovil, K.Selangor

12. Malaysia Hindu Lawyers Association

13. MAHA

14. Global Hindu Heritage Organisation

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