When flowers and festivities rule...

Onam special

When flowers and festivities rule...

Malayalis across the City are busy shopping and soaking in the festivities of ‘Thiruvonam’, which falls today. While many are getting their families together for the day, some are busy preparing the different dishes that the festival is known for. Others are excited about the new clothes they will be wearing.

PV Gopinathan, who will be celebrating the day in the City, says that Onam is all about bringing people together. “Even though many don’t have a holiday, I will be on leave from work and will spend time with my family,” he adds. According to him, the festivities are grand here. “The many associations conduct different events on the occasion and the festivities go on for a long time.”

Swapna Vipin, a homemaker, also says that the festivities here are more elaborate. “Earlier, people used to have ‘thiruvathirakali’ (traditional dance for the day) on Onam and the festivities were elaborate back home. But nowadays, it is a smaller affair there. However, these traditions are widely practised here since there are so many Malayalis in the City,” she elaborates.

“In Kerala, the day is mostly celebrated at the ‘tharavadu’ (ancestral home) but in Bengaluru, it is celebrated with friends. There is also a full-fledged vacation for Onam there and schools are closed for days together. But here, it’s a working day and even the ‘pookalam’ (flower carpet) is just put a day before or on the day of Onam,” narrates Swapna. She adds that the ‘onakodi’ is another important part of the day wherein people wear new and traditional clothes. “Women wear the traditional ‘set saree’ or the ‘set mund’ and little girls wear ‘pattu paavada’. In fact, this is one of the only days when my son also wears traditional clothes.”

The ‘sadhya’ (grand feast) is what steals the show on the day. Geetha Gopinathan Pillai says that the elaborate meal consists of varied dishes like ‘avial’, ‘pachchadi’, ‘thoran’, ‘khichdi’, ‘kootukari’, ‘eriseri’, ‘pulisheri’, ‘rasam’, ‘sambhar’, ‘kaalan’, ‘olan’ and ‘morrukari’. “We start preparing the feast early in the morning. The meal includes about 16 or more items, along with different ‘payasams’ like ‘semia payasam’ and ‘ada pradhaman’. We even invite our friends over and they love indulging in the spread,” she says. Sudheer Nair, a businessman, says that the celebrations are not restricted to his Malayali friends and family. “I have friends here from different parts of the country. We all get together and cook a grand meal and watch some comedy films that are shown on regional channels. Though not many know much about the festival, it is the mood and festivity that really matters.”

The prices of the flowers usually escalate during this season. But most Malayalis like Sindhu Panicker, a professional, say that this will not deter them and they will be making a flower carpet on the day. “The ‘athappu’ brings out the child in you. Back home, we would play a lot of games with our family members but here, the ‘sadhya’ and flower carpet is the most that we do. Thus, despite higher prices, we will be making the ‘athappu’.”

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