BHOPAL: Malayalee Associations in the city have begun to celebrate Onam online due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Unlike every year, when various associations of Malayalees used to organise big functions where cultural events and competitions were held and the traditional Onam food was served on banana leaves, this year no public functions were held. The associations have also presented ‘Onam kits’ to the families of Kerala in economic distress due to the pandemic. And ‘Raja Mahabali’ visited Malayalee homes to bless the people.
C Joy, President of Bhopal Malayalee Association (BMA), said that this year the Zoom App has replaced public celebrations of the big day. The association is a 39-year-organisation of Keralites in the city with about 20,000 members. He said that they held Rangoli-making competitions online. “The participants were asked to upload the photographs or videos of their rangolis,” he said.
Joy said that with COVID having hit the economy, many Malayalyees in the city have lost their jobs and some even do not have the money to pay the rent of their homes. “We decided to ensure that even such Malayalees are able to enjoy the festival and so we distributed Onam Kits to them, along with rations for two months,” he said.
According to OD Joseph, President, of United Malayalee Association (UMA) with some 1,000 families as its members, their organisation held all the activities online and people participated in them from their homes. A floral rangoli (Athapoov) competition was organised as a contest in which the participants were required to prepare the traditional Onam feast. Under the auspices of UMA, Mahabali, in whose memory Onam is celebrated, visited people at their homes to bless them. “Earlier, people used to go to functions to see Mahabali but this year, due to COVID, it was Mahabali who went to their homes,” he said.
Kavita Shaji, a classical dancer said that even though public functions are banned, she and others of her community are celebrating the festival with the same enthusiasm at their homes. “The only difference is that this time, there won’t be get-togethers of families and friends,” she said.
KS Manoj, who works for a private firm said that every year 10 to 15 of his friends used to visit his place on Onam to relish the traditional dishes. “I don’t think anyone would come this time. COVID has changed everything,” he said.