News East-West Desk
TORONTO: Citizenship and immigration minister Jason Kenney has greeted the Tamil community of Canada on the occasion of Thai Pongal.
Thai Pongal is a festival of thanksgiving celebrated by the Tamils at the end of the harvest season and the beginning of new opportunities. Thai is the 10th month of the Tamil calendar. Dedicated to the Sun God thanking Him for his bounty, the festival is celebrated over four days.
In his message to the Tamil community, Kenney said, “Today is one of the most popular festivals for Tamils around the world. It is widely known as the `Festival of the Tamils’…a thanksgiving ceremony during which Tamils express gratitude for a successful harvest.
“It marks the beginning of the winter solstice, when the sun begins to move north from its southern-most position.’’
The minister said “this day of gratitude is celebrated by all those in the Tamil community around the world in the company of friends and family. For all Canadians, Thai Pongal provides an opportunity to reflect on the contributions that Canada’s Tamil community has made to our country’s rich and diverse heritage.’’
As minister for citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, Kenney said, “I offer my best wishes to all those celebrating Thai Pongal.”
Liberal Leader Bob Rae also greeted the Tamil community on the festive occasion.
Rae said, “Today as Tamils here in Canada and around the world mark Thai Pongal, families and friends will gather to celebrate the festival of harvest, new opportunities, peace and prosperity.
“With its long and cherished traditions, Thai Pongal is an occasion to acknowledge the tremendous contributions of Tamil Canadians across the country. The achievements and deep commitment to community by generations of Tamils here in Canada continue to enliven the cultural diversity of our great country.”
The Liberal Leader added, “On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and our Parliamentary Caucus, allow me to extend my warmest Pongal wishes to everyone for a wonderful Thanksgiving.”
On behalf of the NDP, Rathika Sitsabaiesan, Canada’s first MP of Tamil origin, also greeted her community on the occasion.
“I extend my warmest Pongal greetings to all Canadians of Tamil heritage who are celebrating the birth of the month of Thai with their families and friends. As the Tamil saying goes: When Thai is born, new beginnings are born,’’ she said in her message.
“Thai Pongal is a time for new beginnings and renewal and special thanks. This four-day celebration marks a period of abundance, peace and happiness.
“In celebration of the biggest harvest festival of the year, Tamils in Canada and around the world gather with family and friends and share special meals. During this time of goodwill Tamils draw closer to loved ones in thanksgiving for the blessings of the past year and to look with hope towards the future.
“On behalf of the entire New Democrat caucus, I wish everyone celebrating Thai Pongal a joyful harvest festival,’’ added the NDP MP.
There are over 300,000 Tamils of Sri Lanka origin alone in Canada.