A bullock cart-ride organised by Tamil Nadu Tourism Department at Veera Narasingampettai in Thiruvaiyaru taluk on Pongal captivated foreigners who took part in the festivities as special guests.
Numbering around 48, they hailed from France, England, Denmark, Italy, Mexico, USA, Germany, Scotland and Australia. They were greeted on arrival at Veera Narasingampettai on Wednesday by Agriculture Minister R. Doraikkannu, Collector, M. Govinda Rao and officials clad in traditional dress.
The visitors enjoyed participating in events such as cooking rice in open space using fire wood and traditional sports such as uriyadi (breaking of hanging pot), kabbadi and vazhukku maram organised by the tourism department.
Subsequently, a 10-km bullock cart-ride specially organised for the visitors, enthralled them as the locals cheered them along the route. Later, they watched bharathanatyam and folk performances such kavadi attam, thappattam and silambattam programmes along with the Minister and the Collector.
On Tuesday, another set of foreigners took part in Pongal festivities organised by Thanjavur Tourism Promotion Council and Kalai Aalayam Foundation at Nanjikottai village in association with India Tourism, Chennai, and South Zone Cultural Centre, Thanjavur.
The visitors were given insight into Pongal festival and how it was celebrated. They also had a first-hand experience in making clay pots used in the festival and garlands using fresh flowers, and Thanjavur Thalayatti Bommai (swinging dolls).
Some of them took part in traditional events such as tug-of-war, uriyadi and lifting of Ilavattakal (lifting of granite stones by unmarried boys). Sessions with soothsayers, palmists and kili josiyam captivated their attention.
They also watched with interest the folk dances such as puliyattam, kollattam, silambattam, thappattam, kattaikal attam, karagattam, mayilattam, kalaiyattam, poikal kuthirai and kaliyattam. They were received by Nanjikottai village panchayat president Sathyaraj and others.
Meanwhile, the Cauvery Rights Retrieval Committee organised a Thanksgiving Pongal event at Kallanai bus stand area in order to express the gratitude of Tamilians to Chola King Karikalan, who built the check dam across the Cauvery and British engineer +Sir Thomas Arthur Cotton, who added sluices during the colonial era.
Leading the event held on Thursday, committee coordinator P. Maniarasan said the CRRC had decided to observe the second day of Thai month as Thanksgiving Pongal Day in memory of Karikalan and Arthur Cotton every year, beginning this year. Such events would remind the younger generation of the history and encourage them to preserve the facilities for posterity.
The statues of Mother Cauvery, Karikalan and Arthur Cotton were garlanded on the occasion.