A season of bounty

Nostalgic Onam

The intermittent showers of an overstaying monsoon notwithstanding, the Malayali community in the City is celebrating Thiruvonam, the harvest festival, in all its colours
today.

Floral delight: Making flower carpets is a vital part of the celebrations.

While many have braved the season’s rush and left for their native place, some are staying back and sharing the bonhomie with non-Keralites.

The festival, which began 10 days before Thiruvonam, is a time to share the plentitude with all, irrespective of caste, creed or religion, by haves and have-nots.

In the City, the celebrations are largely community-oriented because most people are working on the day.

Sridevi Unni, who stays in Koramangala, turns nostalgic when she talks abut Onam. “We make a small pookkalam (flower carpet) at home.

Non-Malayalis come home for lunch and we have a good time, which is what Onam signifies –– celebrating it without any differences.

Then of course, there are festivities by various Malayali associations,” she says.

“I hail from a joint family and back in Kerala, we used to celebrate it in a big way. Preparations begin 10 days before the festival.

Apart from the feast, we used to have a lot of cultural programmes at home.

And now, we have three generations celebrating it together,” she says.

Surumy Sayeed, a homemaker, will be celebrating Thiruvonam at a friend’s
place complete with the traditional sadya.“We have always celebrated all festivals right from childhood.

When we were in Chennai, my mom used to make the sadya. We would sit down on the floor and have the feast on the plantain leaf along with our staff.

As a kid growing up in Kerala, Onam was synonymous with holidays.

I remember waking up early in the morning, getting dressed and laying the flower carpet with cousins and friends. At home, the food was always vegetarian on Onam,” she says.

Surumy, who is the daughter of actor Mammootty, adds, “Onam always bring with it good memories.

I remember dad shooting in Guruvayoor once during Onam and
we had different payasams on all 10 days, which was brought from the temple.

But now all of us are in different places and scattered. But we celebrate it in our
own way,” she adds.

The celebrations in the City, in fact, continue much after Onam.

Madhusoodanan A of Kalavedi, a cultural organisation, informs, “We have already conducted sports events as part of the celebrations.

On September 16, we will have a pookkalam competition followed by cultural events. Playback singers will be performing here. And then there is the grand lunch.”

It’s hard to miss the floral decorations in the house or courtyard to welcome the
legendary king Mahabali.

Beena Pillai, a lawyer, says, “Most of the time, Onam falls on a working day, hence, we don’t get much time at hand.

Both my kids love the sadya, hence we prepare all the dishes at home and I call my juniors home for lunch. Usually, we get all the ingredients for Onam from Tippasandra Market.”

Jacob Verghese, also from Kalavedi, informs that at his place, the festivities begin with the laying of flower carpets.

 “Then we have a get-together with our friends. Each one brings home a dish and a grand lunch follows.

Our association, every year, also gives awards for academic excellence to children of our members.

In fact, we celebrate the festival here better than we do in Kerala,” he adds.

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