With service in their hearts

As the Malayalee community in Hyderabad gears up to celebrate Onam, we speak to a prominent city-based Malayalee and get his views
 

Published: 11th September 2019 05:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th September 2019 05:07 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

HYDERABAD : Their state is known as “God’s Own Country”. It is renowned for its literacy rate, which stands, as per 2011 Census, at 94 percent, the highest in the country. Marking their presence in Hyderabad since nearly a century, the Malayalee community in the Telugu speaking states has 38 associations. They have come together under an umbrella entity called Confederation of Telugu Region Malayalee Associations (CTRMA). 

“The first association, Kerala Samajam, was formed in 1960 at Chintal Basti in the city. In Hyderabad, the Malayalee community is the best service-oriented one among all others. Our associations do not discriminate on the basis of caste or creed. The associations are cadre-based and focus solely on serving the needy,” says CTRMA president Libby Benjamin.

Some of the activities conducted by the associations include – career awareness programmes for students, providing assistance during marriages, giving financial help and medical assistance to the needy, etc. 
Many Malayalees in the city are into professions such as teaching, nursing, business sector, IT industry, etc. “Interestingly, the only two women chief secretaries are Malayalees – Sathi Nair and Minnie Mathew,” adds Libby. Malayalees can be found across the city, in parts of Secunderabad, Kukatpally, Balanagar, etc.

Cuisine
Many restaurants in the city, including ITC Kakatiya, Ohri’s, etc. feature ‘Onam Sadhya’ prominently in their menus during the festive season. Served on a banana leaf, the feast includes options such as thoran, aviyal, olan, kootu curry, steamed rice, ghee, sambar, appam, ada payasam, ari payasam and a host of other dishes.

Festivals
One of the most important festivals of Kerala, Onam is an annual harvest festival that commemorates the ‘Vamana’ avatar of Lord Vishnu and the homecoming of King Mahabali. It is celebrated for 10 days in the month of Chingam. The festival this year ends on September 13. During the celebrations, boat races and masked dances are held, while women make intricate flower arrangement decorations and take part in song and dance routines. ‘Vishu’ is another important festival that marks the beginning of the Malayalee year, and is celebrated in April.

Health and wellness
Kerala is renowned for its wellness industry. Hyderabad, too, has its share of Malayalee health centres, Kairali Ayurvedic Centre being prominent among them. Some of the employees in such centres learnt the tradition from their ancestors, and are working to keep it flourishing.

Art forms
Who can forget ‘Kalaripayattu’ martial art form depicted in Bharateeyudu? Well, this ancient and world-renowned practice has its humble origins in Kerala. Along with martial arts, Malayalee culture has other notable dance forms such as Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, etc.

“Every year, all 38 associations jointly celebrate Onam, and later, each association celebrates in its respective region. However, owing to the floods in Kerala, we have diverted the funds that were supposed to be used in the celebrations this year to Kerala Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund,” informs Libby.

Onam celebrations and their dates

Dilsukhnagar Malayalee Association:
15-Sep-2019
Kerala Arts Cultural 
Association, Ramanthapur
22-Sep-2019
Tanal Association, 
Secunderabad
22-Sep-2019
Navodaya Association, Kukatpally
22-Sep-2019

 shyam@newindianexpress.com @shyamyadagiri

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