Today is Thai Pongal, the Harvest festival celebrated by majority of Tamil speaking people in countries all around the world (Indians, Sri Lankans, Indonesians and so on). So here’s wishing you all a Happy Thai Pongal, from London. Best wishes. -Mani.
That’s what Tamils and other Indians who celebrate this festival say to one another at this time.
It’s the same as wishing someone `Happy New Year’ – because for farmers in Indian countries, this is actually a new year. Well, not just for farmers – it is the beginning of the new calendar for Tamils and marks the first day of the new year. Thai is the name of the first month.
The rituals for Thai Pongal involve people clearing their homes of clutter and old unwanted items (sometimes burning them), sweeping of the whole house and washing the floors (if cement or concrete), then purifying the home with ringing of bells, incense and so on. On the day of Pongal, all household members will rise early, look to the rising Sun and make a prayer, then take a bath / shower (anointing themselves with special water…
Way back in January1990, as I stood alone in a semi-dark room in the funeral parlor – with my father’s body in an open coffin, I made a silent vow to him. A promise that I doubt I can keep, as it involved me finishing the Ph.D that he was working on, when my father – Kanapathipillai Navasothy had passed away in a sudden street accident. (yes some times people do get hit by a vehicle ..and it’s true, sometimes crossing the road is the most dangerous and last thing people do!)
His Ph.D research work still occupies shelves in a cupboard in our sitting room. But it’s all in Tamil, and is all about tamil (language) culture. Now I can speak Tamil, and write. After all, I lived in Sri Lanka till age of 15, living, breathing, speaking, studying and thinking..in Tamil. But the last 25 years have been a time when the use of Tamil language has been fading from me.. Not everyone can just pick up a Ph.D level research and finish it. People need a life time of their passions, beliefs, creativity and knowledge – to undertake such a thing. Perhaps if I had started back in 1990, I may have got partially there by now- and perhaps if I start now, I may get there still… But my passions, creativity and directions lie elsewhere (in the exploration of Sciences, psychology & Spirituality).
Drowning in sorrows of his death, it was emotive of me to have made a promise to my father to finish his lief time’s work. Though that is not possible, my sister Vathani & I still plan to remember our father Navasothy (for that is his actual first name..which by some quirk in filling forms at Immigration back in 1985 has become our surname. So his `name’ lives on already every time someone calls me, reads or writes my name!). We may one day build a memorial of some sort. But with the advancement of internet and online worlds that are now possible, we have new possibilities – and my private work continues to create a website for my father, and put important works by him online.
My research shows that Amazon/e-books have not yet started publishing in Tamil. (Now there’s an entrepreneurial idea!). So I’ll wait and then upload my father’s books in e-format, for the world to read it once more.
But for now, this blog entry is my first attempt to honour a promise I made to my father K.Navasothy- Tamil Scholar (`Navalar Navasothy’ they honoured him in his later years in London, for the power of poetic words he possessed).. that his works will live again.