Ekadaksha Learning Center for Children with special needs

What we do - Ekadaksha Learning Center Chennai - By Stephen Eastop

Pongal is the harvest festival of India celebrated to thank and pray for a good harvest. In TamilNadu,  we pray to the Sun God, Mother Nature and farm animals that help to contribute to a bountiful harvest. Pongal also marks the beginning of the Tamil month “Thai” and hence it is also called “Thai Pongal”.  There is a tamil proverb – “Thai piranthaal vazhi pirakum”. This denotes that the month of "Thai" is considered an auspicious month with the belief that fresh new beginnings and positive changes will happen in one's life.

Pongal is a major festival of Tamilnadu celebrated over 4 days. People visit their native villages to celebrate the festival with their near and dear. They decorate their homes with Maavilai thoranam, a garland made out of mango leaves. Beautiful and colorful kolams are also drawn at the entrance of houses.

On the day of Bhogi,a day before Pongal, people discard and throw away all unwanted old belongings. They clean or paint their houses to make space for fresh beginnings and new things to enter their life. “Pazhayana kazhidhalum,pudhiyana puguthalum” –  Discarding old things and making room for new things to enter. At Ekadaksha this concept was used in the form of emotions. Emoji cards of sad, angry, irritated were kept in trays. Children were called one by one to choose any emotion which they want to let go of. They showed this choice on the Avaz communication app. They then threw the card in a basket. Once the whole school finished discarding each of their emojis, the basket was thrown away and happy faces were shown. This was a way to teach the children that negative emotions can be dealt with, let go of and thus make room for happiness within ourselves. 

On the day of Pongal, people boil raw rice in a mud pot and as the water boils and flows over the pot,they chant “Pongalo Pongal”. Pongu in tamil means to flow, and hence the festival is named “Pongal”. They then worship the Sun God and Mother Nature offering the freshly made Pongal. At Ekadaksha, a lovely set up was made by the teachers who were in charge - Ms.Akila, Ms.Priya and Ms.Sumangali. Classwise, the children and teachers sang a prayer to thank God, after which they took group pictures in their festive attire. Even the bulls who help farmers are given their due. The day after Pongal is "Mattu Pongal". On this day, they decorate and offer prayers to the bulls and animals who help on the farm. 

Click here to see our last year's Pongal celebrations in which this part of Pongal was celebrated greatly. 

On the final day, everyone enjoys with their families by going for outings to beaches, parks, hotels etc. They chat, play games and have lots of fun. We played the traditional "Kulakulaiya mundrika" game.Children and teachers sat in a circle. One child ran aroudn the circle as the teachers sang the song. The child then dropped the beanbag on the lap of his/her friend. Thus, the game continued. They child who was chosen also posed for a photograph. The game continues till all the children and teachers got a chance to run. 

On this day the children also enjoyed a feast of yummy snacks - Sakkarai Pongal,Venpongal and Medhuvada.

The Pongal celebration was relaxed and enjoyable. It conveyed the message to discard unwanted things/thoughts in order to make room for new things and happiness in our lives.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Pongal.

Click here to see photos of the Pongal celebration. 

Click here to see Pongal celebrations with our remedial children.

Click here to see Pongal wishes.

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