Last-minute shopping rush for Ponggal in Malaysia

Families were seen dashing to buy the usual necessities – milk, brown sugar, a claypot and most importantly, sugarcane.


Sweet yield: Gokulan (in purple) helping K. Palani, (first from left) his wife Edwina Anne Edwind, and son P. Lokkish, pick sugarcanes, at Little India, George Town. — LIM BENG TATT/The Star

January 14, 2022

GEORGE TOWN – Last-minute shopping for Ponggal is a must for those aiming to score fresher sugarcane, mango and turmeric leaves, while others usually have a few more items to tick off their list.

In Little India here, families were seen dashing between stalls and shops to buy the usual necessities –milk, brown sugar, a claypot and most importantly, sugarcane.

Safety manager K. Palani, 45, was spotted picking out sugarcane with his wife Edwina Anne Edwind, 43, and 12-year-old son P. Lokkish from a roadside make-shift stall.

He said they were also looking for turmeric leaves to decorate the house and tie around the claypot.

“This year, our celebration will be grander as there is no movement control order, but it will still just be us and our two older sons.

“We still have to buy the claypot, brown sugar and rice before heading home.

“I work in Kuala Lumpur but always make sure I come home for Ponggal,” he said.

Retired policeman S. Sandran, 67, who drove all the way from Kedah with his wife, was seen checking out claypots for his growing family of five.

“We are buying a medium-sized claypot. We always drive to the island to shop for Ponggal as we can find everything here.

“There are five of us at home and since our daughter just got married, this is her first Ponggal where her husband will be joining us. So this year is extra special.

“We decided to shop last minute this year as sometimes, the stock is replenished which means that certain perishables are fresher, like sugarcane and turmeric leaves,” he said.

For trader G. Gokulan, 26, who was selling sugarcane, turmeric leaves and mango leaves from a lorry, it had been a busy two days for him.

“We brought 400 sugarcane stalks from a supplier in Kampung Rawa on Wednesday and sales have been great.

“It has been much better than last year and I believe I will sell out soon as people have been coming non-stop. They buy either two or three stalks at a time,” he said.

Mathavon Stores managing director K. Nadarajan meanwhile said he had reduced his initial order for the claypots by 30% due to manpower shortage but had to stock up after realising that there was demand.

“We brought in a claypot that was painted completely in white and had leaf designs. That particular one has been popular.

“I brought in my first batch of claypots on Jan 3 and again on Jan 9 and I believe we have sold around 5,000 claypots of various sizes,” he said.

Ponggal, meaning “to boil over” in Tamil, is celebrated from the last day of the Tamil month of Margazhi (December to January) to the third day of the Thai month (January to February).

Farmers in India celebrate it on the first day to represent the first harvest of the year.

The second day is known as Mattu Ponggal and is devoted to cows, regarded as sacred animals.

Young women are celebrated on the third day known as Kanni Ponggal.

It is also celebrated as a form of thanksgiving for an abundant harvest.

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