Time for festivities

Time for festivities

Time for festivities

Onam is here and for the few lakh Marunadan Malayalees, as non-resident Keralites are known, in the City, it is time to bond with their ilk as also their non-Malayalee friends.
Onam’s the time when these Keralites reinvigorate their roots and charm the City, they have made their  home, for good. Fun, frolic and feast are the essence of the celebration.
The festival is synonymous with Onakodi (new clothes), pookalam and the sadhya.

Women decked in Kerala sarees and men in white mundus and shirt celebrate their tradition. Traditional dishes like olan, kalan, kichdi and pachadi as well as mouth-watering desserts like pal payasam and sharkara varatti, chips form an integral part of the sadhya. Every Malayalee’s house is cleaned and the courtyard is readied for the pookalam. A variety of flowers are collected for the arrangement.

The preparations for Onam begin as early as 10 days prior to the actual festival and lasts till the last day that is Thiruonam. The spirit of the festival is about great food and traditional dances.

Legend has it Mahabali, the demon king who once ruled the Gods’ own country, was a very just ruler, who brought peace and prosperity to his kingdom. Onam is celebrated to commemorate the blissful rule of Mahabali. It is believed that during Onam he returns to his kingdom to pay a visit to his people.

Several households in the City spread the traditional Onam feast for their non Malayalee friends. P K Sudish, a businessman in the City, plans to have nothing less than 50 people over for a sadhya. He says it’s the only time when we can give people from other cultures a peek into our own. “We spend the day together. Song, dance and music are an integral part of the celebration,” he says. Sneha Nair, a student at Christ University who couldn’t make it to her parents’ place this Onam, has decided to celebrate it with her friends.
“We will lunch out at Coconut Grove, dressed in traditional style. It’s one day when we get to celebrate in Kerala style,” she says.

Bindu, a teacher with Kairalee Nilayam High School, HAL says that she starts preparations for Onam almost a month in advance. She buys new clothes for her family and friends. She, along with her sisters and co-sisters, is readying a traditional feast this time.

“Our celebrations are a lot limited now. We can’t replicate the same thing we do back in Kerala because of space constraints,” says Bindu who says Onam is a special time for her.

 A couple of Malayalee associations in the City have lined up several programme for Onam which span a week.

The sadhya is dished out by expert cooks, especially brought in from Thrissur. Traditional temple art dances, performed during Onam, such as Ottanthullal and Thamyambaka are performed by dancers from Kerala. The more well-versed participate in Akshara Slokam, a poetry competition.

 “The tradition of giving away gifts to children and a set of new clothes to the poor is followed even to this day,” explains O Viswanathan, president of the East Cultural Association.