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January 11, 2015

A Commercialized Pongal

Commercializing holidays seems to be a global phenomenon. This post highlights some Pongal ads shown in Tamil Nadu or throughout India on Tamil tv channels.  

Sri Kannan Textiles - Clothing 
Pongal Ad
It is imperative that everyone wears a new "dress" on Pongal. When "dresses" (read as "clothes") are presented, typically they could be presented to god first, and turmeric may be applied to each corner of the dress. After the puja is over, the clothes are received by the family members, and worn after the morning bath. This ad below shows the Pongal fashions that were popular in an area of Tamil Nadu in 2013. 

The two stills I have chosen to show along with the video are intriguing. The one to the right shows Pongal and Christmas symbols together. Some of the Pongal symbols we see are decorated cows, pongal pots, sugarcane stems, and sample kolam (rice flour floor) designs. Christmas symbols of course include, Santa carrying presents and a decorated Christmas tree. The photo below to the right is more intriguing, as two of the men in the still are Malayalam actors, Jayaram and Mohanlal (from another state, Kerala, that does not celebrate Pongal). 

South Indian Celebrities in Pongal Ad

Asian Paints - Household Paint
An auspicious gesture in Tamil Nadu
Home improvement projects are commonly done during Pongal. The below ad shows a Pongal pot overflowing with paint, rather than Pongal. The image to the right shows an elder placing their fists against the sides of their head. This non-verbal behavior is for good luck or blessing someone. Those who can explain it better, please share the significance of this in the comments below. 
Overflowing Pongal Pot

Complan - A Health Drink
There are two short ads in the below video. The first segment shows the Pongal decor which includes a kolam (rice flour drawing) and an overflowing pot of Pongal. 

Pongal pictures

Godrej - Hair Dye 
Killi decorIf you are going to dress to the nines, you might as well refresh your dark tresses, right? The still I have chosen to share to the right shows the dad after he has used the hair dye, sitting amongst Pongal decor. Most of the symbols in the still have already been discussed above. The hanging decor is an eco-decor, made out folded coconut leaves, called "kili" (bird, in Malayalam).  

Tamil Matrimony
Pongal Decorations
This ad is the icing on the cake! No holiday possibly could be complete without wondering when the next in line in the family will get married. Tamil Matrimony is a website for Tamils looking to find their perfect match for their upcoming arranged marriage. (By the way, Authentic Journeys is not getting paid to promote any of these companies or services. These ads were chosen by chance as they appear on YouTube and highlight Pongal holiday sales and promotions.)  

What is a Thali holiday? 
As a cultural note, the first holidays after marriage are considered "thali" holidays. Thali is the Tamil work for "marriage necklace." So, the first Pongal after marriage is called "Thali Pongal," and the first Diwali after marriage is called "Thali Diwali."

Pongal advertisements, like the four day festival, are colorful and cultural. No longer are Pongal sales confined to clothing, household utensils, and jewelry. The gambit of products and services cover the width and breadth of life. View some of the tv ads below, some of which may take you by surprise!  

Jennifer Kumar, collaborator of this post, bridges the corporate cultural gap between US Americans and Indians. For more information about corporate cultural strategy sessions, contact us today.

Related Posts: 
What is Pongal? 
How do Indians Celebrate Diwali in the USA? 
What is a potluck party?  

Note: Any brands or companies mentioned in this post are used as examples. Authentic Journeys is not being paid advertising money nor is Authentic Journeys affiliated with these companies in any way.

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We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.