As technology and progress move forward and life becomes faster, many of the old traditions are being lost. The Dr.MGR-Janaki College of Arts & Science for Women wanted to revive and keep alive the spirit of Pongal, the traditional Tamil Harvest Festival. Their goal was to bring the cultural and traditional values of native celebration to the younger generation. We were tasked with this and in handling the Pongal Vizha celebrations held at the college. This included the ideating, planning, executing and promoting the entire event.
How we did it!
Students from the city barely have any exposure to what village life with a backbone of agriculture is all about. We decided to initiate them into the real feel of a Pongal Vizha, authenticity we realised was the key.
Pongal is all about thanksgiving for harvest to the Gods, the Sun, the cows and other aspects that make up rural life. It’s celebrated with much fanfare in villages with pots of overflowing Pongal, sugar cane, rural markets and more. We decided we would recreate this atmosphere. We planned it a little ahead of Pongal so that we would get good coverage on Pongal day.
Participation of students was integral to the success of this event. From Pooja rituals to Rangolis, students were divided into groups and assigned responsibilities. The place was decorated beautifully in true, Tamil village style.
The traditional Pongal celebration by boiling rice and letting it overflow was just one part of the celebrations. The grander one was the ambience of a rural market place that was recreated right down to the bangle sellers with colourful bangles, eateries serving a variety of traditional food, cotton candy vendors, porridge vendors, coconut sellers and more. The mehendi designers adorned hands with beautiful mehendi designs adding to the festive feel. The parrot fortune-telling added an authentic touch and lot of fun. The merry-go-round was much loved. There were village settings and traditional entertainment with colourful folk dances, bullock-cart rides and more. These created exciting photo opportunities for the media and the shutterbugs had a great time clicking pictures.
The students came dressed in traditional finery to fit the rural milieu. They enjoyed themselves thoroughly as they immersed themselves in the atmosphere.
Where we think we really succeeded is that it was not just another event, we helped capture the spirit of Pongal celebration and also brought out the hidden talents of students with folk art performances, creation of rural markets, village settings, team work and togetherness, etc. We had created an experience they would not forget. It was painstakingly planned and executed taking care of even small details.
The results were sheer delight both for our client and us. Nearly 4000 students took part in the celebration. There was substantial reach among younger generation through various channels and media coverage. The immense photo opportunities also helped us gain a lot of coverage on Pongal Day. We were happy to have played a role in the revival of gradually disappearing festivity that is unique to Tamil people and culture.
The Pongal Vizha brought alive the rural flavour and fervour of how the festival has been traditionally celebrated. We received coverage in over 10 TV channels, 20 web TV channels and 20 publications. The event is now celebrated every year by them and PR is being done by us.