Navi Mumbai: Kerala’s Rich Culture And Tradition Comes Alive On Onam

Navi Mumbai: Kerala’s Rich Culture And Tradition Comes Alive On Onam

The day is cherished by meeting family and friends. To preserve the communal spirit amidst daily routines, a special Onam Sadya, accompanied by cultural events, is organised separately.

FPJ News ServiceUpdated: Monday, August 28, 2023, 08:25 PM IST
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FPJ

Mumbai: This year, Mumbai embraced the spirit of Onam with fervour and enthusiasm. On Sunday afternoon, Biju Augustine, a Keralite residing in the city, ensured that the festive fervour was not dimmed by distance. While unable to replicate the 10-day celebrations that traditionally occur in Kerala, Augustine ensured to celebrate it on Sunday, before the actual Onam on Tuesday. “It is a state festival. Irrespective of the religion one belongs to, we celebrate the festival and welcome King Mahabali who is said to visit his subjects on this day. We will have an Onam Sadya on Tuesday as well, first a lunch at a restaurant followed by dinner at home. Our Church also organises an Onam Sadya, which we will be attending,” said Augustine, who skipped tea after relishing the Onam Sadya containing 24 delicacies.

Significance of Onam

While predominantly celebrated by Keralites, Onam signifies the arrival of the demon king Mahabali, who was once a powerful ruler of both heaven and earth. He aimed to establish his hold on all the worlds, however, his ambitions were curtailed by Lord Vishnu, in the form of Vaaman avatar. The deity measured heaven and earth with his first two steps, and Mahabali bowed before, humbly offering his head for the third. Lord Vishnu's foot then pushed Mahabali into the netherworld, Pataal Lok. In recognition of Mahabali's sacrifice, Lord Vishnu granted him a boon, allowing him to visit his subjects every year. This auspicious day has been designated as Onam.

Onam Sadya

The festival's dawn witnesses the creation of elaborate Pookolam (flower patterns) outside homes. Though not mandatory, people visit temples in traditional attire, with men donning "Mundu" or silk dhotis, and women attired in "Pamundu," a white silk saree adorned with a golden zaree border, as they seek the blessings of Lord Guruvayoor. The day is cherished by meeting family and friends. To preserve the communal spirit amidst daily routines, a special Onam Sadya, accompanied by cultural events, is organised separately. “On the day of Onam, people are working and prefer to spend time at home with their families. Hence, we host a separate Onam festival a little later. This year we have scheduled it on September 17, nearly three weeks later,” said the secretary of Mumbai Kerala Samaj, Vinod Nair.

Nerul's 9-metre Pookalam

Beyond individual celebrations, the essence of Onam came alive at the Nexus Seawoods mall in Nerul. Teaming up with Seawoods Malayali Samajam, the mall orchestrated a captivating showcase of Kerala's rich culture and traditions on Sunday. Commencing at 5pm, the event featured a stunning 9-metre Pookalam, or flower rangoli, and a display of the story of King Mahabali as well as a colourful medley of Kerala's arts and folk cultures.

Onam celebrations at the Nexus Seawoods mall in Nerul, Navi Mumbai.

Onam celebrations at the Nexus Seawoods mall in Nerul, Navi Mumbai. |

Onam celebrations at the Nexus Seawoods mall in Nerul, Navi Mumbai.

Onam celebrations at the Nexus Seawoods mall in Nerul, Navi Mumbai. |

“The highlight of this edition was the enthralling Pulikali, a traditional folk dance featuring a body-painted tiger. Alongside this, the signature Chenda Melam, Mohiniyattam, Thivathirakali, Kathakali and a medley of performances was a visual spectacle that painted a vibrant picture of Kerala's artistic heritage,” said the mall’s senior centre director, Rahill N Ajjani. 

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