‘Pongal’ in Africa: Mauritius, Reunion, Seychelles and South Africa:
Mauritius has Tamil population of 115,000. There was a large bulk from southern Tamil Nadu. They arrived in Mauritius since 1727 and worked in sugarcane plantations. Reunion, an Indian Ocean island, run by French Colony, had Tamil settlement since 1848. Tamils were indentured labour from Pondicherry and Karaikal, French territories of southern India.
Seychelles, group of islands, in Indian Ocean, has Tamil history of 230 years. Presently, there are about 4000 Tamils in trading and professions. In South Africa, Tamil migration began in1860; today’s population is over 250,000 Tamils. They are spread over many cities with high concentration in Natal and Durban. There is a sort of Tamil renaissance. Tamils who live abroad take great pride in their age-old traditions.
‘Pongal’ Celebration in These Countries:
There are over 250 temples in Mauritius. ‘Pongal’ is celebrated on national level so there is declared public holiday. In any gathering, there are about 120,000 Tamils. There are a large number of Hindu temples. These are run by voluntary organisations. All rituals and traditions ‘Pongal’ celebration are well preserved.
The organisation of ‘Seychelles Hindu Kovil Sangam’ was founded in 1984. There was the construction of the first and the only Navasakthi Vinayagar temple. This brings together all Tamils to further combine, nurture their cultural and religious links. Annual ‘Pongal’ festival is the major event where cultural troupes are invited. The ‘Seychelles Hindu Kovil Sangam’ celebrates ‘Pongal’ festival on a national scale.
In South Africa, Tamil cultural organisations help a lot to recover beauty of ‘Pongal’ Celebration. The ‘Pongal’ festivals have promoted Tamil unity. Numerous temples built in South Africa have immensely helped in preserving rich traditions of ‘Pongal’ festival.