Indore: Celebrating Onam with friends and family post the festival, members of Malayalee community organised a traditional get together at Ayyapa temple on Sunday afternoon. Along with community members, other non-Malayalee Indorean food lovers, especially the people, who had slightest experience of Kerala or the culture, joined the celebration.
While harvest is the main centre of celebration in Onam, traditional way of celebrating the occasion is with ‘chenda’ music and freestyle dancing. Though people did not dance, but ‘chenda’ and traditional songs of course added to the ambience. While men played first thalam on the traditional instrument, women sang classical songs.
Talking about the importance of playing the instrument, businessman Sajan Panicker said, “Classical music soothes mind and brings positive energy to environment. Music is an important part of any of celebration, and Onam is no exception.” Sharing the reason behind preference of classical music, operation manager at educational consultancy C Sarasan explained, “Classical music studies and produces different sounds that can be moulded into different emotions or bhavs.” He added that music is an important part of their tradition.
Another important trademark of the festival is a dot (bindi) of sandalwood on forehead, purported to cool mind and bring positive energy. Talking about the tradition, teacher Rajana Naik said, “We have a custom of applying sandalwood dot instead of vermillion.” Discussing the colour and its variation, she explained that properties of sandalwood are significant.
“Red coloured vermillion signifies power, which is prominent in northern part of the country. But, southern India is hotter and traditions are tilted towards white colour and calmness,” said teacher Usha Manohar. She further said that the festival also help stay connected with family and friends. “Last year, in a pleasant surprise I met my friend after 15 years and this year too I am reuniting with my old group of friends,” she said.
Discussing about the sumptuous food, businessman Unnikrishnan Pillai said, “Men in our community come together and prepare ‘sadya’, which makes us appreciate efforts of women in our life, who cook for us regularly.”
“We serve food on plantain leaves, which consists of nine courses. The food platter consists of traditional dishes including chips (especially banana chips), sharkaraveratti (fried pieces of banana coated with jaggery), pappadam, various vegetable and soups such as injipuli (also called puliInji), thoran, mezhukkupuratti, kaalan, olan, avial, sambhar, dal served along with a small quantity of ghee, erisheri, molosyam, rasam, puliseri (also referred to as velutha curry), kichadi (not to be confused with khichdi) and pachadi (its sweet variant), moru (curd with water), pckles both sweet and sour, buttermilk and coconut chutney,” Pillai elaborated.
“However, the main course remains incomplete without a dessert with cherry topping called payasam (a sweet dish made of milk, sugar, jaggery and other traditional Indian savories),” he added.