Theresa Villiers MP has issued a message to her Tamil constituents in Barnet to mark the festival of Thai Pongal which starts on Thursday.
"I would like to wish Happy Pongal to everyone "celebrating this important annual festival which starts on Thursday and concludes on Sunday.
Pongal is a four-day-long traditional festival celebrated by Tamils across the world, which falls in the month of Thai (in January-February) when crops such as rice and sugarcane are harvested.
It is a thanksgiving or harvest festival, to thank the Sun for helping farmers to gather higher yielding crops.
It derives its name from a rice pudding called 'Pongal', made of jaggery, milk and freshly harvested rice. In Tamil language, “Pongal” translates to "spilling over" referring to the tradition of boiling rice in a pot till it starts overflowing.
The festival of Pongal marks the end of the southeast monsoon and the start of harvest season and is viewed as an opportunity to mark a new beginning. Tamils believe that Pongal brings good wishes, wealth, peace, and prosperity.
For Tamils, Pongal is one of the most auspicious festivals and can be traced back 3000 years.
Sadly, traditional Pongal social gatherings cannot take place this year because of Covid. I hope people will also take great care in relation to temple attendance. Although religious worship is permitted under current lockdown rules, the scale of the epidemic means that any social contact comes with risk.
I hope Tamils in Barnet and around the world will be able to celebrate safely at home with their families and using electronic means to link up with a wider circle of friends and relatives."
The photo accompanying this article was taken at a Pongal celebration in 2017 at the Highgate Hill Murugan Temple.