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Spirit of Onam in troubled times

Onam came to Kerala painfully. The festival of plenitude was overturned on its head this inglorious year. 

Published: 25th August 2018 02:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th August 2018 01:12 PM   |  A+A-

Onam market continues to be sluggish on Thursday with the state yet to recover from the tragedy caused by torrential rains and floods. A view from the Chalai vegetable market  B P Deepu

Express News Service

Onam came to Kerala painfully. The festival of plenitude was overturned on its head this inglorious year. Instead of harvests and prosperity, Kerala had to experience an abundance of water at its destructive worst.
This time, when Maveli, the lord of the nether regions, returns to his once rich dominion, he would definitely not recognise it.

The hills have been denuded, the streams diverted, the rivers emptied of their sand and the detritus of human beings strewn all over.And yet, something of his legacy remains. A memory of what men and women are capable of.In the darkest hours of the troubled week in August when the dams opened and the raging waters roared and pounded relentlessly, the spirit of Maveli sprang up in his children.

Men, women and children not only endured in silence, they shared and cared for each other. No differences of caste and creed surfaced.  Despite political compulsions, partisan thinking and a few aberrations, Malayalees remained true to that spirit enshrined in this festival. Countless are the incidents when ordinary men and women worked for others selflessly.

Be it the fishermen, the daring heroes of India’s defence forces, the police, fire fighters or the civil servants, they all went beyond the call of duty. Individuals came together to collect, distribute and feed those in need.Organisations big and small came together to provide the vast number of items and materials required for Malayalees to live in a semblance of normalcy.

No less selfless was the press in its outlook. It wasn’t just the coverage. It was also their willingness to bring out the news and serve the people by bringing them succour.The New Indian Express, for example, right from day one was airlifting much-needed things to Kochi and then distributing it freely to the interiors. Just as important and not to be forgotten, were the roles of non Keralites and people abroad. The whole of India seemed to empathise with us.

Many of them residing in Kerala joined hands with Malayalees in facing the force of the waters and bringing some semblance of order to our land.I think we can truly believe this land became one in which there were no divisions.Maveli’s naadu (land) lived up to the anthem of this festival. May the spirit of Maveli linger long. May Maveli’s children recover quickly and bring back prosperity to the state.

Dr Shailaja Menon is former Head of the Department of Management and a founder member of Chinmaya College (Vidyapeet). Presently, she is the Director of Tattwa Centre of Learning.

(The views expressed by the author are her own)


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