KOCHI: Amidst the dark clouds cast by flood and landslides, Kerala is cheering up for Onam. Keeping their many issues aside, hundreds of Malayalees all over the world come together to celebrate the festival. With days left for the celebrations to begin, Express comes up with a few suggestions that can add sparkle to the festivities.
An eco-friendly fete
Since the state government has requested an eco-friendly Onam this year, let’s add pomp to festivities by shunning plastics, like in the old days when Onam was all about celebrating nature. According to entrepreneur and activist Lakshmi Menon, “In old days, the base of ‘pookalam’ (floral carpet) was prepared with clay and flowers that were available in our courtyards.
But the scene has changed and some have gone to the extent of using plastic flowers. Also, using the leftover flowers as compost is a good idea. Plastic covers come into play to carry food and flowers. Why not switch to cloth bags and tiffin carriers instead, as we did during Attukal Pongala, “says Lakshmi. As for Onakkodi, handloom is the perfect choice for it’s all about going organic.
Switch to public transport
Festival time is shopping time in Kerala. Thousands of people throng markets, textile shops and home appliance stores, ticking off every item in the ‘must-buy list’. No wonder the city is clogged. With bad roads adding to the melee, one can switch to the public transport system to make life better for all. Be it visiting relatives, shop-hopping or catching a movie, depending on Kochi Metro and transport buses can help all breathe easy this Onam. With Kochi Metro extending its route and introducing 50 per cent reduction in the tickets till September 18, things couldn’t get any better.
No food wastage
Onam is incomplete without sadya. And, grand feasts always mean a lot of waste. Every year, tonnes of food are wasted in household, during community celebrations and restaurants. To help the cause, avoid cooking in excess. Also, leftover food can be converted into delectable dishes. For those who can’t manage that, share what’s left and unused with NGOs or migrant workers in the city. There are NGOs like Robin Hood Army in the city that can help with the process.
Preparing for the
Though Onam is a harvest festival, not many of us have the luxury to consume fruits and vegetables grown in our backyard, or terrace for that matter. According to statistics, Kerala produces only 30-40 per cent of vegetables and fruits’ requirements. A small patch of land or even a rooftop is more than enough to set up a vegetable garden. Since more and more people are resorting to terrace farming, the ways to develop one at your place are easily available on the internet or YouTube vlogs.
One can take tips from A R S Vadhyar, a builder by profession and a resident of Kochi, who has converted his entire terrace into a well-planned vegetable garden with products ranging from yams to coconut. According to him, before setting up the garden, they used to buy vegetables worth more than `400 every week and now, they get all they need from the garden. So, to have a healthy and pesticide-free sadya next year, start planning now.
Onam, or any festival for that
matter, is all about togetherness. So, go offline, switch off your gadgets and spend valuable time with friends and family. Status updates can wait as such sweet moments need to be savoured first.