( January 14, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) President Maithripala Sirisena has, in a message to mark the Thai Pongal Festival which falls today said:
“Since the dawn of civilization, humanity’s devotion to the sun that symbolises the wholeness of nature has remained intact. From among the many traditional festival and rituals of Hindus, in veneration of the sun, Thai Pongal is the foremost festival, that marks the supreme status the Hindus have bestowed upon the sun throughout history.
“Thai Pongal is rendered colourful by the fact that it allows us to show our gratitude to nature and renew our hopes devotedly. Making the broad span of the Hindus culture evident, they make Thai Pongal an occasion to be thankful, not only to the sun for giving us duly rain and bountiful harvests, but also to the cattle by feasting of cows, for providing us with mill.
“Festivals such as these rekindles the contract between man and the gifts of nature, while epitomizing the enormity of the human gratefulness.
“As the world looks forward to move in the direction of sustainability, the message transmitted by Thai Pongal since antiquity, becomes ever more relevant. I wish a happy and a prosperous Thai Pongal festival to the Hindus living in Sri Lanka and abroad.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ranil Wickemesinghe, in a message to mark the Thai Pongal Festival, says the event had started as a celebration of the first harvest during the time of Chola kings in South India. “It has today become a major religious festival commemorated by Tamils living all over the world.
“The rising of the sun is observed as the dawning of the New Year at Thai Pongal.It also signifies the strong bond maintained in agrarian communities with nature – the sun, the rain and the animals who contribute towards a bountiful harvest.
“The Thai Pongal Festival shows us the value of sustainability in a diverse community while reminding us of the importance of gratitude and strong bonds.
I take this opportunity to wish all those celebrating Thai Pongal Festival prosperity and good wishes; in a spirit that truly celebrates unity in diversity, one that reaffirms our capacity as a nation to face the challenges of tomorrow as one people.”
Meanwhile, the opposition and TNA Leader R. Sampanthan, in his Thai Pongal message, wishes for a reasonable, lasting political solution to the unresolved national question through a new Constitution.
“I extend Thai Pongal wishes to the Tamil people living in Sri Lanka and Overseas.
“The Thai Pongal Day, which is known as the harvest festival of the farmers, is celebrated by the Tamils all over the world with much gratitude to the Sun God who creates seasons through which the farmers are able to do their cultivation and harvest their crops.
“As the New Year begins with lots of expectations, on this Thai Pongal day my prayer and wish is that we would find a reasonable, lasting political solution to the unresolved national question through the new constitution, which will be a significant milestone in the history of our country.
“As we have entered into a year filled with immense challenges and expectations, I extend my best wishes to all the people of this country on this day of Thai Pongal for a future filled with joy happiness and prosperity.”