AS LITTLE India filled with colourful lights, the Pongal or harvest festival celebrations for this year kicked off with a traditional folk touch.
Around 65 folk artistes from India and 30 from Malaysia performed for about 1,000 people who were gathered at the PGP Hall inside the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road on the evening of Jan 10.
It also marked the launch of this year's Pongal light-up, which was jointly organised by the Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) and Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association (LISHA) with the support of the Singapore Tourism Board.
The artistes, who were brought in by Malaysian TV channel Astro Vinmeen HD, entertained the audience with their "tiger dance", karakattam (a dance where dancers carry a pot on their heads) and thappattam (a dance with the thappu - a handheld drum).
Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan Jin, who launched the light-up, toured the heritage exhibition, fed the cows kept in a pen at the temple and watched special needs children draw rangoli patterns on pots.
A team of nine people from a food catering institute in Chennai were on hand to cook healthy and traditional meals such as akathikeerai soup, milagu rice, thavalai adai (a type of Indian pancake), and the kambu payasam dessert which was served to those who came for the event.
This year's light-up was organised to give people a village feel, said LISHA chairman Rajkumar Chandra, while HEB chairman R. Jayachandran said at the event that the board aims to get more people involved in community events.
A host of festivities have been planned from Jan 15-18. On Jan 15, the first day of Pongal, around 50 elderly people from old folks' homes across the island were taken to Little India to join in the celebration while 50 families will gather at Hastings Road on Jan 17 to take part in a mass pongal cooking event.
While giant cardboard pongal pots decorate Serangoon Road, colourful plastic water pots with rangoli patterns on them drawn by special needs children and the elderly people from Pure Hearts Recreation Centre hang along Campbell Lane.
There, you'll also find a Festival Village where you can shop for decorative items, traditional outfits and Indian delicacies.
Over at Hastings Road, a Cultural Village has been set up to showcase the Indian community's culture, heritage and tradition.
You will be able to visit a heritage exhibition and a cattle farm.
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