Double festival has Malaysia's Little India booming

KUALA LUMPUR - Little India in Brickfields here has been teeming with shoppers who are preparing for Ponggal which falls on Tuesday and Thaipusam which will be celebrated on Friday.

Property negotiator R. Logeswari, 36, said she was shopping for Ponggal and Thaipusam at the same time since both festivals were just three days apart.

Among her purchases were earthen pots, rice, brown sugar, cashew nuts, raisins, dried ginger and herbs for Ponggal, she said, adding that she also bought a new yellow Punjabi suit for Thaipusam.

"For Ponggal, I'm buying in small quantities because I have a small fam­ily of three persons. So I spend less than RM100 (S$39). I noticed the prices of some items have increased slightly.

"I did not get the pre-packed or instant Ponggal mix because I like to prepare it the good old traditional way and according to how much I need," she said yesterday.

Ponggal, which is celebrated over three days, is a harvest festival marked by Tamils throughout the world.

Janthi Subramaniam, 52, a private sector worker, was seen shopping for potatoes and vegetables.

She said she would preparing veg­e­tarian dishes in the evening after morning prayers on Ponggal.

A cashier at Dayang RV, Mahalet­chmy Mayeelvanam, 40, said business had started to pick up in recent days and should peak by today.

"The most popular items are the earthen pots because it is a tradition to use new pots each year," she said.

Each beautifully decorated pot costs between RM4.90 and RM19.90 depending on its size, she said.

"The instant ponggal (sweet rice) mix can be cooked in 45 minutes and is quite popular too among working adults. A pack only costs RM5.30," she said.

Other items normally needed for the festival include mango leaves, sugar canes, fruits and oil lamps.