Nostalgia marks Onam for city Malayalis - The New Indian Express

Nostalgia marks Onam for city Malayalis

Published: 17th September 2013 07:59 AM

Last Updated: 17th September 2013 07:59 AM

Onasadhya (grand feast), a traditional sumptuous meal, comprising of at least 25 dishes, served hot on a large plantain leaf, marks the grand festive feast on ‘Thiruvonam’, the day signifying the symbolic return of King Mahabali. The festival is also a commemoration of the utopian past that was filled with abundance, peace, equality and harmony during the king’s reign.

For lakhs of Malayalis in the city who celebrated Onam in style on Monday, it was a nostalgic time.With over 35 different Malayali welfare associations in the city, the festivities are scheduled for almost all weekends. Speaking about the celebrations in the city, Pradeep Nambiar of Nair Service Society said, “From vegetables, flowers, plantain leaves for Sadhya to payasam mix etc, everything required for Onam is available in the city today. There are 70 odd Kerala stores in the city.”

According to him, around 8.5 lakh Malayalis reside in the twin cities. “The festivities are greater this year around and are very much on par with that in Kerala but for Malayalis living outside Kerala, Onam is more about living nostalgic memories of childhood,” he added.

Various associations like Mytri-Bowenpally, Nair Service Society-Attapur are holding Onam celebrations and cultural programmes on September 22 whereas others like Association of Twin cities Malayali Association(ATMA) and Malanad-ECIl are holding their celebrations on September 29. As ‘Thiruvonam’ day of the Malayalam month of Chingam (the first month of the Malayalam calender) this year falls on September 16, a Monday, most of the Malayalis in the city had to take an off from their regular work. “We had a get together with friends and family at home over a sumptuous feast. It is a special occasion that takes us back to our past,” said Chandra Mouli, who is the PRO to Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy.

According to him, the splendour of Onam is slowly fading away in the present day. “As children, we used to eagerly wait for Chingam, when the whole village would turn flowery. These days, one can hardly find any flowers in this concrete jungle and the flowers for the pookalam (traditional flower arrangement) are brought from Tamil Nadu or Karnataka,” he pointed out.

“The collectiveness in celebrations is missing as every household celebrations are confined to their drawing rooms,” he added.

The celebrations of Onam, which also signifies unity, equality and brotherhood that were the key features of King Mahabali’s Kerala is also missing.

“With peaople’s mindset, things are changing, but we, Keralites, in whichever part of the world we may be, will let the spirit of Onam continue,” he added.

Some, like S Ramachandran Nair, a resident of Gayatrinagar, ECIL, noted that the celebrations cannot be compared with that in Kerala or with that of the past.  “Today, everyone is bothered only about themselves and celebrations are done mostly when the associations call for it,” said Nair, who celebrated with his family at the Kamalanagar Ayappa Temple. For many of the younger lot, who could not manage a holiday with family back home, the Onasadhya was restricted to the Malayali hotels in the city.

“This is the first time I am away from home on Thiruvonam. Due to my classes, I could not go. But I managed to savour an Onasadhya from a city restaurant which was not so bad,” said Ajith Kumar, a student.

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