Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issues statement to mark Tamil celebration of Thai Pongal

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      Canada's Tamil community is getting ready to celebrate the four-day harvest festival known as Thai Pongal.

      And that's led Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to issue a statement marking the occasion, which honours the Sun God.

      “Thai Pongal is a time of celebration, joy, and community. Families and friends will gather to give thanks for a plentiful harvest, and to cook and share Pongal, a sweet rice pudding," Trudeau said. “As we mark the end of the harvest season and the start of the New Year, we also celebrate Tamil Heritage Month.

      "During this special time, we recognize the many contributions Tamil Canadians have made to the success and prosperity of our country," the prime minister added. “On behalf of our family, Sophie and I wish everyone celebrating Thai Pongal a joyful festival.”

      Tamil Canadians trace their roots back to South India and Sri Lanka, with most settling in the Toronto area.

      In the 2016 census, there were 157,000 Tamils in Canada's largest city, making it the second-largest Tamil community outside Asia.

      Well-known Tamil Canadians include tennis player Sonya Jeyaseelan, Liberal MP Gary Anandasangaree, and former NDP MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan.

      Many Tamils are Hindus.

      In Metro Vancouver, they form a significant part of the congregations at the Shree Mahalakshmi Temple in East 11th Avenue in Mount Pleasant and the Thurkadevi Temple on Edmonds Street in Burnaby.

      The largest Hindu gathering spot in Burnaby is the Vishva Hindu Parishad Temple at 5420 Marine Drive.