Onam begins tomorrow (Uthradam) and here I am stuck with loads of work! Onam outside the state is like any other working day because there is no equivalent festival in other parts of the country so that we can get a holiday. In short, Onam holidays are only in Kerala. This time round, Rakshabandan falls on the third day (Avittam) of Onam.
Makes me think that the myth of the asura king Mahabali and Vishnu’s avatar of Vamanan is exclusively our own 😛 otherwise, the wise generous king that he is, would have come to all parts of the country to visit his people.. so it would have been an onam month all over 😉 there is of course a twist in the story. Unlike Diwali which celebrates the homecoming of an avatar of Vishnu, here, Vamanan is the enemy! Onam is the celebration of the homecoming of Mahabali. It all goes back to the story of amruth..! If you can follow the video (below) it tells a story of onam..
I have woken up every day this week like any other working day, woke up, dressed and was ready by my table to begin work! And every time whatsapp beeped a message from a friend in Kerala, I had to consciously sit up and remind myself that it is the Onam week, most of them are in a holiday mood in Kerala! Ya! it takes one to be in Kerala, at least in my case to sink into that spirit of Onam… the decked up shops, large cut outs of Mahabali.. the flower carpets that adorn every office and may homes, the general holiday mood.. The last two days of this year’s four day festival is on the weekend, Thank God for small mercies. Here is a video in Malayalam trying to chalk out the Onam past, watch it for the artists who take up the initiative to draw..
I feel like chicken this weekend! (Onam Blasphemy :P) It is one of the easiest dishes to make, and a wholesome meal in itself.. with an accompaniment of rice, pickles, may be a thoran (a vegetable dish with equal 1:1 coconut and vegetable) and a pachadi (raw vegetable in a curd base, usually a pineapple or beetroot) and a mezhuku (a one vegetable side dish, finely chopped vegetable are sauted in chillies, shallots and garlic) or our famous avial! A payasam (kheer) can be thought of! [Onam in the central and southern parts of Kerala is mostly vegetarian, while the northern Malabar region has non veg dishes. However, the larger more popular picture of an onam meal is vegetarian!]
The best part of staying outside Kerala is that Onam comes twice, we don’t let our King go back so soon. We keep him on Earth for a month more. Even though there is no onam in other parts, there are Malayalees in every nook and corner of the world and outside (if neil armstrong is to be believed;) ;)) Poor Bali! One on the day of the festival (like the next four days) and two, when the Malayali association folks organize an Onam celebration within the next one month.. it is onam then until that day of celebration 😛 complete with the sadhya (the meal), and the cultural programmes, making the flower carpets, participating in the games and walking around in Kerala handlooms (desinger and desi) 😉
Onashamsakal then… (Translated as Onam wishes), an onam song for you .. Yesudas from a 1977 film… poovili poovili pononamaayi
The featured picture for this year’s onam is a flower carpet from a friend’s home, a flower carpet made of flowers from her garden 🙂