A day for flowers and feasting

ONAM celebrations

A day for flowers and feasting

Yet another Onam is here. Keralites in the City are busy shopping and planning for the Thiruvonam which falls on September 7. While some are busy getting the family together for the day, others are excited about the onakkodi (new clothes) and the pookalam (flower carpet).

The festival is popular for its elaborate vegetarian feast called Sadhya. Consisting of dishes like avial, pachadi, kalaan, erisseri and olan with desserts like paladaprathaman, semiya payasam and parippupayasam, the feast is a grand affair.

Sudha, a homemaker whose family has been in the City for generations, says that the day is a grand celebration here. “I’ve seen Onam celebrations in Kerala on television and feel that they are grander here. This is one festival when people forget which community and religion they belong to and come together as just Malayalis,” she says. She adds that a grand feast with around 25 items or more is prepared for the day.

For children, the day is about new clothes and helping their mothers with pookalam. Sudha’s twin sons, Akkshan and Akkansh, await this festival every year. “We love the different items in the sadhya that is served on the banana leaf,” says Akkshan while Akkansh adds, “I enjoy the time we have with our family.”

Flowers are an essential part of the festivities as they are used to make the pookalam. A homemaker from Jeevanbhimanagar, Sherina Thilakan says that the cost of the flowers is high this year but they haven’t dampened her spirit.

“We will be making the pookalam even though the prices of flowers are high as the spirit of Onam lies in decoration. The celebration ends with Thiruvonam in Kerala but in Bangalore, the festivities go on for weeks,” she says.

Many agree that the festivities are bigger in Bangalore. Balakrishnan PVN, a project manager, says, “Onam celebrations are mainly just on the last day back home. But here, the festivities go on till December with all the different Malayali associations taking part in them too. It is so grand that we don’t even like going back home for the festival.” He adds with a smile that every weekend from this week will be a festive affair just like Onam for the next few months.

Others like Sandesh PS, a businessman in the City, says that his Onam celebrations have not been restricted to Malayali friends and family.

“I have a group of North Indian friends. We all get together with my Malayali friends, cook a grand sadhya and watch some films. Though not all of them understand the concept of the festival, it’s the mood that matters,” he sums up.

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