Saturday, January 13, 2007

Two holidays - January 15th - Happy Birthday, Dr.King & Happy Pongal!

Happy Birthday, Dr.King!

It's Dr.Martin Luther King's birthday on Monday. Born on January 15, 1929, Dr.King, is one of the greatest political and social activists the world has ever known after Mahatma Gandhi. As a strong believer in Gandhi's philosophy of peaceful protests, Dr. King promoted non-violent means to achieve civil-rights reform. Dr.King was awarded the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. His Birthday became a National Holiday by an act of Congress in 1983.

Happy Pongal!

It's also a long weekend in parts of India - particularly in the states of southern India, people celebrate Pongal/Sankranthi this Monday. Traditionally, Pongal is celebrated for three days in the state of Tamilnadu(which is where I am from). It's definitely a "Tamil Thanksgiving Holiday". Here's the thanksgiving rationale:

1)On the day of Pongal, tamilians prepare pongal, which is a rice-lentil dish and offer it to the Hindu-Sun God, Surya. It is a gesture symbolizing thanksgiving to the Sun in anticipation of a good harvest season and lots of prosperity.

2) It is also a holiday to thank farmers for their hardwork on the farms(Uzhavar Thirunaal). Sugarcane is the centerpiece of celebrations. People in villages and cities eat sugarcane, a sweet gift from nature!

3) The last day, which is Maatu Pongal is a festival of the cattle or a cattle carnival, which is thanksgiving to the cattle. Cattle owners wash their cattle, paint their horns, and decorate it with designs. Beads, bells, and flower garlands are tied around the cow/bull's necks. They are fed with pongal and taken on a parade around the neighborhood.

To end on a personal note, it was great to talk to my 4 yr old daughter about thw two holidays - Dr.King's birthday and Pongal. Gave a very short narrative about Dr.King's life, and that he was inspired by Gandhi,(whom she knows was a great man from India), and finally, we discussed the meaning of peace(my daughter's middle name is Ahimsa meaning peace/nonviolence).

I was looking for picture books that talk about Dr.King's life, and found a couple of good ones. I plan to get my little one the title - A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr this week (find picture below. It will be a neat non-fiction addition- in fact, the first biography that we will be adding to her collection of picture books.


Tharini said...

Hi Praba...wish you and your family a very sweet Pongal too!

This was a neat update....and inspired me to talk to Akhil about Pongal and its significance too. Thanks for that!

Let us know how this book was for you and K!

B o o said...

Happy Pongal, Praba. This post inspired me too. Thanks for the same.
Getting books in Tamil is not so easy. They are not as attractive or as sturdy as the English books are. It makes me sad to realize that we dont have these kind of picture books in our mother tongue(s) for Gandhiji, Bharathiyar or any other great person. I bought a couple of Tamil rhymes books and the quality is appalling. Even the content is questionable. Really sad.

Praba Ram said...

T -
Thanks so much for the wishes. Will definitely let you know about the book once I am able to get hold of it.

Boo -

Thanks for the wishes. I know what you mean by the lack of quality children's books in Tamil. It is indeed a sad state of affairs - i have read comics like ambuli mama and short stories in mags like gokulam, growing up...don't remember any picture books on specific themes/stories.

BTW, your tamil blog is amazing! I lurk around often. LOVE your writing style. Don't know how to "type" a comment in tamil yet. Is it hard to run a blog in tamil? I have no clue how to do it...


B o o said...

Hi Praba,

Though I started the Tamil blog with all enthu, Im not able to post as frequently as I would like to. Like I wrote in my recent post, writing in Tamil does nt come easy for me.

You can download eKalappai software from here

Some help on that can be found here:

Its easy to type in Tamil once you d/w this software. For eg, typing Thamiz will give you தமிழ். Otherwise, no different from running an English blog. All you need is time! ;)

Praba Ram said...

thank Boo for the links! Will certainly see if I can work on a tam blog - of course if I need to be able to find the time (the biggest constraint...)


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