The Tamil Nadu government has declared a holiday on January 12 (Friday) for all schools ahead of Pongal. This would allow students a five-day break, since January 14 (Sunday) is Pongal, January 15 (Monday) is Thiruvalluvar Day, and January 16 (Tuesday) is Uzhavar Thirunal.
Making it a long weekend for schools and colleges ahead of the harvest festival, School Education Secretary Pradeep Yadav sent a notice to all chief and district educational officers on the decision.
The announcement appears to have come in response to parentsâ€™ request. Some parents had complained that Pongal being on a Sunday means travel would be difficult, owing to the large number of people traveling to their native places.
This year, those traveling back home for Pongal are facing further challenges with the transport unionsâ€™ strike in the state. On Thursday, the Madras High Court on left it to the conscience of the striking trade unions of Tamil Nadu transport corporations to decide as to whether they could ply the buses from tomorrow for five days in view of the Pongal harvest festival in the interest of the public. This has in turn sent the tickets of private buses skyrocketing, with at least a 200% increase in the price of tickets.
All colleges affiliated to universities which are functioning under the state higher education department would also remain closed on January 12, according to an official release, reports TOI. It is reported that the higher education secretary Sunil Paliwal sent a circular to all the universities about this on Wednesday evening.
Pongal is celebrated across Tamil Nadu to ring in the harvest season. Similar harvest festivals take place across the country and even in some parts of Southeast Asia like Thailand and Singapore, ushering in a new year of bountiful harvest and prosperity. Uzhavar Thirunal is also a farmersâ€™ event, celebrated at the end of Pongal festivities to thank friends and families who helped the farmers through the season.