Who’s there ?
Yaar Jijith its me King Mahabali for gods sake (remember Onam).
And out I snapped from my deep slumber. Oh it was a dream and what a coincidence its Onam. Yes Onam; Sweet Sweet onam.I have done most of my schooling in the gulf and this is one festival which I missed out on. We did celebrate it in our way of course. We used to get new clothes and our family members used to get together in one of the houses and used to have a nice sadya but nothing beats the original. I do remember once I was in India during onam but due to some unknown reason that part has been blurred out of my memory. Anyway, we being kids loved the story of the benevolent king Mahabali who granted anything his subjects asked for and the rise of his prosperity reached great heights that even the gods became envious of him .They finally had took the help of Krishna who (luckily for us) stamped him into netherworld with a Boon of visiting us every year (I do wonder sometimes if not for the boon, the mythical mahabali would not have remained in our hearts).
I finished my schooling and returned to kerala to pursue my future studies and that was when as most people say I fell in love with the festival. It’s not just the grand day but preceding days which gives it a magnificent touch. All the kids wandering around different places to collect flowers for the pookalam .They even try to enter the courtyards of unknown houses and pluck a flower or two only to be chased away by the children of that house. The elders also have a busy schedule. The men are busy buying clothes for the family and some of them even begin to wonder in jest “wow what a big family I’ve got”. The ladies of the house are engaged in buying the ingredients for the various dishes to be prepared and of course the rightful new saree that they will wear on that day. All in all, the whole house is busy and a festive atmosphere is created. Its a feeling which one has to go through to enjoy it.
On Thiruonam, everyone gets up early and the kids who are already eager to wear their new dress have to be coaxed to take a bath first. Then all the children sit down with all the flowers collected during the last week and are engrossed in making the gorgeous pookalam. Remember, this has to be the biggest and the best since it’s the Grand Finale after all. If you haven’t seen one, I would advice you to do the same. Its one of the sights I enjoy a lot, the children will be arguing over the size and shape and when that is finalized they will evenly distribute the work among themselves ( I believe they could definitely teach the corporate community a thing or two on task allocation ) and once the job is done they do make a point to ask the elders as to how it looks. The elders opinion matter a lot to these souls and once the favorable opinion is given (always), the smile which appear on their faces would even make the gloomiest person feel happy. They play around in the courtyard while the elders are busy preparing the sadya. The kitchen’s generally off limits to people other than the those involved in cooking (ladies of the house) .The elder men call up their friends to wish them and enjoy the sight of children wandering aimlessly. Sadyas ready and all the elder males along with the kids sit on the veranda floor (its generally a long line) where they are served on a banana leaf. Different varieties of food are served one by one and devoured with equal vigour.And to top it all off is the Payasam which makes you salivate just by looking at it. Its taken along with a banana and some ghee. Its tirne for the ladies now and the men serve them or in most cases they help themselves. After lunch the whole family sits in the courtyard and chat in general while the kids are busy playing.
Evening comes so soon and you begin to realize that onams come to an end so early but as the saying goes everything that has a beginning has an end and everyone starts saying their goodbyes having thoroughly enjoyed their day. For the kids the wait has started again when their beloved king would rise again from netherworld and bring prosperity throughout the land.
That’s what onam reminds me and to be in a far off place on this festival is a feeling I don’t cherish much. But I do pray to Mahabali that every time he visits us from now on I would like to be with my family and friends .After all Life is precious and so is the time one spends with family and friends. So one should be able to enjoy beautiful festivals like Onam.The wait begins!