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Exploring Thailand's Pongal Festival

Image of Thailand's landscape
Unpredictable rainfall or poor soil conditions can affect crops.

In January, many in the country of Thailand unite to celebrate the Tamil Thai Pongal festival, which celebrates the harvest and farmers' gratitude toward farm animals. Despite poor soil conditions and unpredictable rainfall, Thai farmers and others come together to give thanks for what the year has brought.

Cause for celebration

A key feature of the Thai Pongal festival is the celebration of nature's bounty during harvest time. People give thanks to the farmers who supply their food, while the farmers themselves express their gratitude to nature and livestock. An overarching theme of the festival is social cohesion, as it strives to unite communities in celebration of a common goal.

During the festival, families come together to make a traditional meal called pongal. This sweet dish consists of lentils, rice, cardamom, raisins and cashew nuts. Pongal is traditionally prepared outside in the sunlight to honor the sun god, Surya. While the celebration is largely restricted to Thailand and is not a primarily religious holiday, many Hindu temples outside of the country, such as those in the Tamil Nadu region of southern India, also participate in this tradition.

Much to do

Although the Tamil Thai Pongal festival is a time for celebration, it is important to remember that there is much work still to be done to fight child poverty in Thailand.

In 1990, Thailand recorded 27 percent of its population living under United Nations’ poverty standard, and that number improved to 9.8 percent in 2002, where the number has remained. Government initiatives and the work of ChildFund and other organizations have helped reduce the number of malnourished children by half during the past two decades, but Thai children still face significant challenges to their development.

Please consider a donation to ChildFund's Children's Greatest Needs fund so that we can provide children with nutritious food, access to education and clean drinking water. Your donation will help ChildFund make a lasting difference to children in need and their communities.

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