Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pongal, another chance for renewal

Originally Posted on the Common Threads Blog
Centre Daily Times, January 15, 2009

This New Year is already beginning to feel a little old, as the days go by very quickly. Our family was lucky to have another opportunity for renewal yesterday, another chance to start afresh, as we celebrated the festival of Pongal, or Makara Sankranthi, which falls every year on January 14th.

This day marks the Sun’s transition from one sign in the zodiac (Sagittarius) to another (Capricorn), and is celebrated widely, all over India. It is also referred to as Uttarayana, or the northern movement of the Sun, and is a joyous occasion, reflecting the gradual movement in the northern hemisphere towards longer days, and eventually summer.

Houses are cleaned, the old is discarded, and schools are closed in preparation for and celebration of the festival. The central role of the sun in all our lives is celebrated, as also the role of animals and birds, and nature. And people consider this a good day to start new ventures in their personal and professional lives.
All of these celebrations are of course accompanied by a whole lot of delicious and special food.

At our home in State College, we celebrated Pongal without the holiday that accompanies the festival in India, and tried to pull it off on a weekday, as best as we could. My husband and I shared stories of our childhood experiences with our daughter, managing to transfer a little bit of family traditions, some history, some memories, and some experiences to look forward to again next year, in the context of our life here.

After all, isn’t that what life is all about? The creation of some special memories, which we hope to recreate year after year – of using the day to get in touch with family, to make a special meal, to offer prayers, to capture the sense of continuity and renewal, all in one single day.

Now, if we could only manage to keep all the wonderful energy of today intact, and find the sense of renewal and continuity, day after day.

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