Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday requesting that Pongal is included in the list of Compulsory Holidays to be observed by all Central Government Administrative offices in Tamil Nadu.
Mr Panneerselvam requested that just as the Government of India’s Circular relating to list of 12 optional holidays of which three are to be selected includes an ‘Additional day for Dusshera’, an ‘Additional day for Pongal’ may also be included in the list of optional holidays.
The Chief Minister referred to a Centre’s notification of a list of holidays, in which 14 days are categorised ‘compulsory holidays’, and further three holidays from a list of 12 optional holidays are to be notified by the Central Government Employees Welfare Coordination Committee in different State Capitals. He pointed out that Pongal was among in the list of 12 optional holidays, which meant Pongal was not a compulsory holiday for Central Government offices in Tamil Nadu.
“This apparent diminution in the importance accorded to Pongal for the past several years has created disquiet and an impression that an important people’s festival of Tamil Nadu has been ignored by the Central Government,” Mr Panneerselvam contended.
If Pongal was included in the list of compulsory holidays for central government offices in Tamil Nadu, it would “ensure that Thiruvalluvar day could also be declared as a holiday by the Central Government Employees Welfare Coordination Committee of Tamil Nadu, to enable the employees of Central Government Offices working in Tamil Nadu to participate fully in the festivities connected with Pongal,” the Chief Minister added.
Pongal, the prominent harvest festival of Tamil Nadu, is a social festival that transcended all religions and a number of social, recreational and sporting events including jallikattu were organised along with Pongal festivities, which usually last for three or four days, he said. For the State Government, the holidays start from January 14 and last till January 16, which is Uzhavar Tirunal (Farmers Day).