The month of January, the valley is smoky,
the cupbearer is weary, the wandering bard is in distress,
the raven is thin, the hum of bees is rare,
the byre is empty, the kiln is cold…
Mis Jonawr, myglyd dyffryn,
blin trulliad, trallawd klerddyn,
kul bran, anaml llais gwenyn,
gwac buches, diwres odyn…
Verses of the Months, Welsh c.15th century
To everyone experiencing winter – and especially those who cannot at present find summer inside themselves – here’s a beautiful and rather uplifting video to give you a vision of a warmer land on another part of our beautiful Earth- as well as some food for thought. In it Carl Sagan speculates about the nature of the universe and the gods, accompanied by images of the festival of Pongal.
The festival of Pongal comes from the South of India, especially Tamil Nadu. It is linked to the agricultural cycle and celebrates the first harvest at the time when the days are becoming longer. It is an auspicious time and a time of new beginnings. People offer a special thanksgiving to Surya, the sun god; rain; the earth and cattle – all of which play a part in enabling the harvest. Pongal comes from the word ponga which means ‘to boil’ and pongal means ‘spillover’ or 'that which is overflowing’. It is also the name of the sweet rice which is the special food of the festival. So as we experience our time of scarcity, another part of our planet experiences a time of abundance.
During the Pongal festival, people wear new clothes and throw discarded articles on the fire. In a few short months the earth will have turned again in its cycle and the sun will bless us once more. What would you like to discard with the old year and what seeds would you like to nurture until the earth turns and spring returns to the north?
May the sun radiate peace, happiness and prosperity into your life in 2011.