- Tamil speakers will celebrate Pongal over the next four days
- Rahul Gandhi attended the popular Jallikattu event in Madurai district
- RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is already in Chennai on a two-day visit
Tamil speakers celebrate their annual harvest festival, Pongal, over the next four days beginning today. Coinciding with similar revelries across the country, such as Bihu in Assam and Uttarayan in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu's biggest celebration comes merely months ahead of the state's assembly polls. Not surprisingly, key leaders from across the political spectrum are set to mark their presence at the goings on.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, for instance, is already in Chennai on a two-day visit. Today, he offered Pongal prayers at the Sri Kadumbadi Chinnamman Temple in the state capital's Ponniammanmedu locality.
"Pongal is celebrated for three days in Tamil Nadu, unlike the rest of India where it is a day-long festival. On day-one, Sun and Goddess Lakshmi are worshipped, which represents prosperity. On day-two, cows are worshipped. The cow represents nature and provides assistance to us. We worship her to thank all those who work for us. On day-three, we meet our acquaintances and eat sweets. Sweets represent that our speech should be cordial with everyone," Mr Bhagwat said.
Early this morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his customary wishes in both English and Tamil.
Pongal greetings to all, especially my Tamil sisters and brothers. This special festival showcases the best of Tamil culture. May we be blessed with good health and success. May this festival also inspire us to live in harmony with nature and further the spirit of compassion.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 14, 2021
His party chief, JP Nadda, is scheduled to visit Tamil Nadu today to attend the Namma Ooru Pongal (Our Village Pongal), a state-wide programme, in Chennai.
The BJP is looking to finally come of the political wilderness in Tamil Nadu this election. While it is yet to announce a formal alliance for the state polls, it did tie up with the AIADMK in the 2019 national election.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, meanwhile, attended the popular "Jallikattu" event in Madurai district. He was joined by DMK youth leader Udayanidhi Stalin.
"I have come here as I think Tamil culture, language, and history are essential for India's and need to be respected. I've come here to give a message to those who think that they can run roughshod over Tamil people, can push aside Tamil language and Tamil culture," Mr Gandhi said at the event.
"It was quite a lovely experience to see Tamil culture, history in action. I'm happy that #Jallikattu is being organised in a systematic and safe way that both the bull and the youngsters are safe and everybody is being taken care of," he said, according to ANI.
The Jallikattu tradition, involving rampaging bulls, has a passionate following in the state. A few years ago, the Supreme Court had banned the practice citing cruelty to animals, though the Central government later legalised it keeping Tamil sentiments in view.
அனைவருக்கும் எனது இனிய பொங்கல் நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள்.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) January 14, 2021
உங்களுடன் தைப் பொங்கல் கொண்டாட இன்று தமிழகம் வருகிறேன். மதுரையில் ஜல்லிக்கட்டு விழாவில் பங்கேற்கிறேன்.
Coming to celebrate Pongal with you in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. pic.twitter.com/CSUpyUHJaR
The Congress, though a marginal player in the state, is looking to maximise its gains from its alliance with DMK, the main opposition party in the state, which hopes to replace the ruling AIADMK government.
Both the DMK and the AIADMK will be fighting the upcoming election without their biggest icons, M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa, for the first time in decades.