Free Press Journal

Bhopal: Malayalees celebrate Onam with traditional gusto


Bhopal: Onam is being celebrated here with traditional fervour. The residents of Kerala living here are celebrating the festival decked in their traditional attire — men in a shirt and a white dhoti with golden border (mundu) and women in traditional saris. According to Hindu mythology, the festival marks the arrival of ‘Mahabali’ – the ruler of Kerala – from the nether world, to which he was banished by Vamana, an avatar of Vishnu.

Food and decorations are an important part of every festival. And that is true of Onam too. Since the festival marks the beginning of summer harvest,  a sumptuous feast of 26 dishes served on a banana leaf called as ‘Onam Sadya’ is enjoyed with family, friends and relatives. Main delicacies in the sadya include ‘Pachchadi’ (Pineapple in yoghurt), Khichdi, Aviyal (thick mixture of vegetables and  topped with grated coconut), Sambar, Dal, three types of Payasam, Papadam, banana or banana chips and a traditional sweet called as ‘Sharkarvati’, informed Devi Nair, a resident of Kolar Road.

‘Onam Pookalam’ a giant circular shape ‘rangoli’ made only of flowers and leaves is an important part of the festival. The preparations begin from the first day and as the days pass, the ‘Pookkalam’ grows bigger and more beautiful. It is symbolic of the fusion of the old with the new, said Anil Nair, member of Malayalee Association.

Though water sports and outdoor activities including the popular snake boat race ‘Vallam Kali’ are an important part of the celebrations, such sports cannot be organised here in Bhopal  because the boat used for such racing is available only in Kerala said Mani Iyer, General Secretary of Shree Ayyappa Samajam. He also requested on behalf of all Keralites in Bhopal that a government holiday should be declared on Onam.