Several media outlets carried a video which was apparently shot at a traditional Pongal lunch in London hosted by United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Times Now tweeted “#Watch: #UK #PM Rishi Sunak hosts traditional Pongal lunch in #London, his staff eat meals using their hands”. (Archive)

India today also tweeted the clip and claimed that the video was of UK delegates celebrating the Pongal festival by feasting on banana leaves. (Archive)

NDTV News Feed tweeted the image with the caption and wrote, “Watch: UK PM Office Celebrates Pongal, Staff Eats With Hands On Banana Leaf”. (Archive)

Oneindia News, TV9 Telugu and Hindi news portal Prabhsakshi also tweeted the viral clip with the same claim.

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Gaurav Agarwal, who is attachced to TV9 Bharatvarsh, shared the clip and claimed that this was how Pongal was celebrated at the UK Prime Minister’s office. (Archive)

Senior Journalist Jayprrakash Singh also tweeted the clip with the same claim. (Archive)

User @MeghUpdates tweeted the viral clip with the same claim and garnered almost 5,00,000 views and over 2,000 retweets. (Archive)

Fact Check

Upon a reverse image search using key-frames from the viral video, we found the same clip on a page called Tamil Culture Waterloo Region. According to the caption of the post, the people seen in the video were Waterloo politicians, Regional Chair City Mayors, councillors, the police chief and staff. Thus, the video was shot in Canada and not the United Kingdom.

TCA Tamil Thai Pongal Celebration (Tamil Thanksgiving) region of Waterloo politicians, Regional Chair City Mayors, councilors and Police Chief and staff.

Posted by Tamil Culture Waterloo Region on Sunday, 15 January 2023

Moreover, upon a relevant keyword search on Twitter, we found a tweet by Waterloo MP Bardish Chagger, who posted images from the event.

Chagger can be seen in the viral clip wearing the same attire, as seen in one of the images she posted. Below we have compared a screenshot from the clip and an image that was tweeted by her.

Chief of police Mark Crowell also tweeted an image from the Thai Pongal event at Waterloo.

He, too, can be seen in the viral video. Below we have made a similar comparison between a screenshot from the viral video and the image posted by him.

Mayor of Kitchener, Berry Vrbanovic, also shared images from the event. Kitchener is a city in the Waterloo region.

Below, we have compared one of Vrbanovic’s images with a screengrab from the viral video where he can be spotted.

Hence a video shot at Thai Pongal celebration at Waterloo, Canada showing Waterloo politicians, Regional Chair City Mayors, councillors, police chief and staff having a feast was falsely circulated as visuals from a lunch hosted by United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for his staff.

NDTV later retracted the report and issued an apology. Times Now published a fact-check of the viral clip.

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About the Author

Student of Economics at Presidency University. Interested in misinformation.