Overwhelming appreciation of the collective spirit of hard work and sharing of fruits of that hard work with everyone in the community was the central theme of the Auckland Tamil Association’s Pongal celebratory event on a bright sunny afternoon on Saturday, February 8 at the Mt Eden War Memorial.
Almost every keynote speaker present on occasion including Chief Government Whip and Labour MP Michael Wood, Hon Consul of India Bhav Dhillon, Kiwi-Indian MPs Labour’s Priyanca Radhakrishnan and National’s Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi and Dr Parmjeet Parmar emphatically touched upon the spirit of hard work and sharing in their respective speeches.
Speaking on occasion, Mr Wood said, “The idea of celebrating harvest season is a universal idea, where we come together as a community to celebrate the fruits of our hard labour. This is the most beautiful aspect of Pongal, and that we can identify with every culture around the world.”
“Then it is also a uniquely Tamil celebration, where the symbol of Pongal, with a pot of rice bubbling out with froth, signifies that through our hard labour we can have plenty to share around with everyone around us,” Mr Wood said.
Hon Consul of India Bhav Dhillon appreciated the spirit of environmentalism, community-brotherhood and the secular credentials of the Pongal festival that brings together the broader Kiwi-Indian community.
Speaking on occasion Kiwi-Indian MPs Mr Bakshi, Dr Parmar and Mrs Radhakrishnan also emphasised the importance of celebrating diversity in the incredibly diverse and multicultural New Zealand.
The festival of Pongal is a traditional Tamil harvest festival dedicated to the Sun god which according to the Tamil calendar is usually celebrated from January 14 to January 17.
Celebrated by Tamil people in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and countries such as Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius, South Africa, Singapore, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, the festival of Pongal is increasingly becoming popular in New Zealand in recent years.
Auckland Tamil Association, which has been leading the efforts along with a few other community organisations in celebrating key elements of Tamil culture in New Zealand, ensured this year to encourage youngsters within the community to take more responsibilities in planning and execution of the festival.
Speaking with The Indian Weekender, Vai Ravindran, President, Auckland Tamil Association said, “We have been striving hard for quite some time to encourage more and more youths within our community to come forward and take responsibilities of cultural events.”
“We want them to remain connected with our culture and heritage while they pursue their dream of Kiwi-life in New Zealand,” Mr Ravindran said.
International Student Welcome Kit 2020 launched
Sharing further about the Association’s commitment towards the youth, Mr Ravindran also spoke about the newly launched International Student Welcome Kit 2020.
“Our Association works with the broader Indian international student community and helps them in their early settlement in the country by providing them with much-needed support and information.
“This year we have launched a welcome kit that contains guidelines and information on finding accommodation in Auckland, opening a bank account, IRD (Tax) application, kiwi access card, emergency numbers, travel and health insurance,” Mr Ravindran said.
The Welcome Kit was launched by Labour MP Michael Wood.
Tamil language classes complete one year
Hon Consul of India, Mr Dhillon gave away certificates of appreciation and completion of Tamil language to the students of newly operational Tamil language classes.
The Tamil language classes were launched earlier last year, which were announced in a similar Pongal event by Auckland Tamil Association in Feb 2019, with classes starting in March at Onehunga Community Centre.
The classes have been hugely successful with great demand for places for the age group 5-8 years with about 35 students and 4 teachers, Mr Ravindran told The Indian Weekender.