Several news outlets including The Indian Express, India Today, and Latestly have published reports about a staff lunch organised by UK PM Rishi Sunak on the occasion of Pongal on January 15, 2023. However, BOOM found that the video is actually from Waterloo, Canada, where a Pongal feast was organised by the Tamil Cultural Association.
Pongal, also known as Thai Pongal, is a Hindu harvest festival celebrated by Tamilians in India and Sri Lanka.
The video shows a few police officers and other people enjoying a Pongal feast in what looks like a community hall.
The viral tweet was shared with the caption, "Viral Video of UK defense & PM's office staff celebrating Pongal/Makar Sankranti festival. A welcome change 🇮🇳"
The Indian Express used the same tweet in its report.
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The post has been shared by several users on Facebook too.
BOOM found that the video is not from the UK, but from a community event held in Waterloo, Canada.
We went through the quote tweets of the viral video and found a post by a user who uses the alias Champak Bhoomia (@CBhoomia), who questioned the claim's authenticity.
The user wrote, "#RishiSunak has no Tamilian links. This is Waterloo City, Canada. Pongal event hosted by Tamil Association of Waterloo for the City Mayor & Police Chief," followed by a video uploaded on the Tamil Cultural Association's Facebook page.
The video on the Tamil Cultural Association's Facebook page confirmed that the feast took place in Waterloo, Canada, not the UK. The post also mentioned that the event was attended by the Regional Chair City Mayors, councillors, Police Chief and staff.
A Facebook event of the celebrations was also shared by the page. See here.
We also found a tweet by the Mayor of Kitchener, Berry Vrbanovic, who had shared several photos from the event. Kitchener and Waterloo are considered twin cities in Ontario, Canada.
One of Vrbanovic's tweets also contains a photo of him from the feast.
A side by side comparison of the photo uploaded by him and a visual of him in the viral video can be seen below:
We reached out to the Tamil Cultural Association, who confirmed that this photo was taken at their Pongal feast and not in the UK. Along with this, they also provided us with a list of the attendees, which included the MP of Waterloo, Bardish Chagger, MP of Kitchener, Tim Louis, and other officials along with Vrbanovic.
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