As the vast majority of India’s population depends on agriculture, many Indian festivals are often linked to agriculture and related activities. The Pongal Festival is one of the most important harvest festivals celebrated in India. Also known as Sankaranthi, it is celebrated mostly in South India, especially in Tamil Nadu, where farming is the main livelihood.
Pongal falls in mid-January each year, to welcome the beginning of the 10th Tamil Month, called Thai. It is a period of thanksgiving to nature for the bountiful harvest.
Campbell Lane, off the main thoroughfare of Serangoon Road in Little India, transforms into a pedestrian-only street during the Pongal festival, with the Pongal bazaar selling goods such as fresh produce, decorated milk pots, and festive decorations.
Despite undergoing heavy construction work at the moment due to the construction of the upcoming Indian Heritage Centre, Campbell Lane is still experiencing large crowds made up of shoppers at the Pongal bazaar and the occasional curious tourist.
Festive items such as the Indian sugar cane, ginger and turmeric plant, and ingredients for the cooking of the Pongal, a type of traditional sweet rice, are available at the bazaar. There are special celebrations as well, including cooking demonstrations, the Light-up of Serangoon Road for the rest of January, and the distribution of Pongal.
Indian festivals are usually a sensory overload and a walk through the Pongal festival bazaar at Campbell Lane delivers just that.