(Text of “Thaippongal”message issued by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa)
I wish the Tamil community in Sri Lanka and the world over, a delightful Thai Pongal Festival.
Sri Lanka is a nation of diverse nationalities coexisting peacefully. Each of those nationalities have their own, unique cultural celebrations that add color and vibrancy to the Sri Lankan cultural fabric. The Thai Pongal festival is one such important cultural event celebrated by the Tamil community throughout the world.
In times past the Tamil community were a people that were mostly depended on an agricultural based economy. Their lives were bonded closely with nature. To them the terminology ‘Thai’ meant a new and prosperous beginning. They believed that the dawn of Thai Pongal signifies venturing into new beginnings, taking new paths and stepping into a fresh year.
In a nation that has such cultural diversity, festivals and cultural celebrations such as the Thai Pongal festival should be an opportunity utilized to bridge gaps between communities and strengthen reconciliation.
It gives an opportunity to educate and create awareness of the beauty and life patterns of fellow Sri Lankan’s, to join in the celebrations and share with them the joy and happiness.
The Thai Pongal festival is a festival centered around the farming community and it is important to remember the toiling and hard working agricultural community of our nation that continue what they do despite the insurmountable odds against them. I take this as an opportunity to say thank you and appreciate them.
Our Government is committed to the upkeep of the farming community and will continue to provide them with the best available opportunities and protect their rights so that Sri Lanka can prosper into a self sufficient agricultural nation.
Today as our country is getting back on track with development, it faces many challenges. As the month of ‘Thai’ signifies new beginnings, there could be no better opening to step into this new journey of development and new ventures, than the Thai Pongal festival.
My heartfelt greetings to the Tamil community celebrating in Sri Lanka and the world over and would like to urge all Sri Lankan’s to join in the festivities.
I wish everyone a prosperous and peaceful Thai Pongal festival.
Happy Thai Pongal.