The atmosphere was just how a carnival should be. 996 school children, all sitting impatiently waiting for the games to begin. Most of them barefoot, their originally pink uniforms we gave last year have all turned brown.
First off was the 50m mixed relay for Primary 1 children. After a few races, the mood was altered and the LKG (nursery) kids were called for a balloon popping competition. How adorable!
The children were ushered in batches to get their lunch. The school teachers kept a constant watchful eye, giving up their Sunday to bring cheer to their underprivileged students. I watched in admiration as they said their prayers together before feasting on the vegetable biryani.
The highlight of the day was yet to come. The children were handed new school uniforms, school bags, school shoes and stationeries. Seeing the twinkle in their eyes was well worth the hard work that everyone had put in to make this annual event a continued success.
The older children were also given motivational books to reiterate the importance of education as their only means to escape poverty.
For me, it was a mixed feeling of overwhelming joy, frustrating sadness and pure satisfaction. Ponggal in India has etched itself deep in my heart. A time of hope, dreams and prayers.
I end with a quote from a poem recited by a Year 10 participant at our Ponggal Carnival 2017. “Which hand experiences greater joy – the hand that receives or the hand that gives?”