Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday greeted the Tamils in the country on Pongal and said the community have reasons for joy after the three decade long war against LTTE in the north and east has ended.
"As Sri Lanka`s Hindus join their fellow religionists the world over to celebrate Thai Pongal, the most popular of the Hindu festivals of Sri Lanka, they have even more reason for joy as they enjoy the freedom denied to most of them for nearly three decades," he said in a message.
"The widespread celebrations of Thai Pongal in all parts of Sri Lanka emphasise the plurality of our society as Hindus freely demonstrate their ties to a rich cultural heritage," Rajapaksa said on the occasion of the harvest festival.
Observing that Pongal, festival of Sun is twice hallowed, the President said it is a harbinger of good harvest and celebrates the hard work of the farmers.
"I am glad that on this Thai Pongal day our Hindus can, in addition to their expectations for the future, also give thanks for the peace that has been won and their participation in the building of a new future for their own children and all of Sri Lanka," he said.
The festivities highlight the spirit of revival and dedication to look towards the future with great hope and expectations of peace, harmony and understanding in the society, he said.
"I wish the Hindus of Sri Lanka a Happy Thai Pongal and join them in their prayers for a lasting peace and a future of prosperity, with abundant trust and understanding among all people in our Motherland," Rajapaksa said.
"It is highly gratifying that the Tamils particularly in the North and East are fortunate to celebrate this festival in their own areas after the end of the scourge of terrorism," Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake in his message on Pongal.
"We, in the name of humanity, fervently, hope that these will be growth of mutual understanding and brotherhood among all sections of our people in keeping with the ideals of this great festival," he said.
Thai Pongal is the beginning of the New Year and is associated with prosperity, happiness and fortune, he said.