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A roundup of Thai Pongal & Tamil Heritage Month 2023 Events in the UK

January is a culturally significant month for the Tamil community across the globe, including those living in London. In the capital, the Tamil community marked Thai Pongal – the Tamil harvest festival, and Tamil Heritage Month with numerous events in various London boroughs. These included exhibitions, cultural shows, feasts and more, showcasing the rich Tamil language, culture, cuisine and heritage. Here are some of the events which grabbed the headlines in London.

Pongal at 10 Downing Street

On Friday 20th January, representatives from UK’s Tamil communities were invited to 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s residence, to celebrate Thai Pongal. Guests included councillors, community and business leaders, who were treated to Pongal and canapés at the event hosted by 10 Downing St.

Pongal on BBC Sunday Morning Live
Thai Pongal and Tamil Heritage Month was featured on BBC’s Sunday Morning Live. The closing segment of the live broadcast featured Koothu (traditional dance), Parai (drumming), Silambattam (Tamil martial art / stick fighting) and sweet Pongal.

SA Rajkumar from UK based Tamil Heritage society explained eloquently the different aspects of traditional Tamil culture, Thai Pongal and Tamil Heritage Month in London. Click below to watch the program on BBC Iplayer.

Pongal in Trafalgar Square
Nelson’s Column in London’s Trafalgar Square was illuminated on Saturday 14th January to celebrate Thai Pongal, the Tamil harvest festival, and to mark Tamil Heritage Month in London. The projections switched between text (Thai Pongal & Tamil Heritage Month) to imagery (featuring kolam, sugar cane, Pongal pot and Karthigaipoo – the state flower of Tamil Nadu & the national flower of Tamil Eelam).

Pongal in Oxford Street
Gopal’s Corner, a Malaysian Tamil restaurant located in three key London locations, hosted their 5th annual Pongal Feast – London’s largest Pongal Feast – celebrating Thai Pongal, Veganuary and Tamil Heritage Month! Their Pongal feast in association with Markethalls, an upmarket food hall, served 200 diners across 4 pre-booked bottomless feasting sessions. Diners were served ten vegan items on a banana leaf, the traditional way, topped up consistently throughout the 90 minute experience.

A further 800 diners purchased a Pongal feast platter consisting of the same 10 items served on a banana leaf (not bottomless), at Gopal’s Corner branches in Oxford St, Canary Wharf and Victoria. Live Tamil music was provided by a collective of London based South Asian artists.