Agriya Redecorates The Office For Pongal 2011
If you know anything about India you will know that their is a rich and diverse culture throughout the whole country. It’s often called a sub-continent because customs and traditions in the North are completely different to those in the South.
Agriya is based in the city of Chennai (which used to be called Madras until the late 90’s) which is in the state of Tamil Nadu (which literally translates to “land of Tamils”). The Tamil language and culture is one of the oldest in the world, something they are very proud of.
One of the traditions is called Pongal, which celebrates the Tamil New Year. We’re sure you know that the Chinese have their own New Year at a different time to the Western world and the Tamil New Year is the same – they have their own calendar which is thousands of years old (far older than the Gregorian calendar that everyone uses) and so New Year comes at a different time to Western New
Phew. Did you get that?
Part of the celebrations include decorating the home, creating floral patterns on the floor (called Kolam) out of dyed sea salt and cooking up some Pongal which is very sticky, very sweet and very yummy rice. It’s not for people on a diet though because with all the sugar and carbs you’ll spend the next three months at a gym trying to shift the calories!
Now most of our 200 strong staff come from towns and villages that are hundreds of miles away and take 12 hours to reach, so to create a home away from home feeling in the office our boss decided that everyone needed to take part and redecorate the place.
As part of the events, everyone was requested to come in wearing traditional South Indian clothes, which meant beautiful sarees for the ladies and cotton dhoti’s for the men. The office ladies then created the floral Kolam patterns on each floor and the men…well they hung around and didn’t do that much as usual!
There was also a grand challenge to see who could make the best Pongal. We took four experienced cooks – well, men that are married and have children, and four new cooks (some of the younger ladies) and provided all the ingredients.
The two pots were placed on a table and people were invited to try each one to judge who had made the best Pongal. Despite the years of experience between the men, the Pongal cooked up by the ladies was judged to have the best taste. There was some controversy surrounding the competition when the men were caught red handed swapping the pots of food around!