Newham’s Pongal festival marks special birthday year for the Queen

Cllr Paul Sathianesan poses with birthday cake for the Queen at Pongal 2016

Cllr Paul Sathianesan poses with birthday cake for the Queen at Pongal 2016 - Credit: SATHIAMOORTHY GOPALAKRISHNAN

Newham’s Tamil community are laying claim to being the first people celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday.

The group made a special cake and poster to mark the occasion – which doesn’t happen until April 21 – at the borough’s 16th Pongal festival on Friday in East Ham High Street last week

East Ham MP Stephen Timms and local children cut a slice of the cake, topped with an image of Her Majesty, while a special prayer was said to grant the Queen good health and a long life.

A street party was held alongside the event’s usual festivities to mark the special anniversary.

Event organiser and founder of Newham’s Pongal lights, Cllr Paul Sathianesa, said: “The Tamil community wanted to be a role model in Newham to share this blessing with the wider community and with our children.”

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Pongal is a Tamil harvest festival which marks the beginning of the Tamil New Year. It is celebrated by the Tamil Hindu, Christian and Muslim communities across South-East Asia.

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