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City’s Malayalee community gears up for Onam, grand feast lined up

Jamshedpur: Amidst the bright colours and the splendid décor, the Malayalee community of the city will celebrate Onam festival in their own inimitable style on September 7.

The premise of Kerala Samajam is abuzz with activities as men and women dressed in the traditional ‘mundu’ and ‘mundum veshti’ (white outfits) will join the celebrations and enjoyed traditional food.

The morning celebrations will begin with pookala mastaram (flower rangolis), as ladies draped in traditional Kanjeevaram saris will decorate the floors with patterns made of flowers.

A P R Nair, chairman, Kerala Samjam said that in Kerala the biggest festival is called Onam. It signifies the home-coming of King Mahabali. Onam is also celebrated as the day of advent of Vamana and Bali. It marks the beginning of a new life. The festival is all about celebrating on the grand Onasadya (Onam feast), shopping, social reunions and welcoming King Mahabali by spreading good blessings.

“Every year the members of the community unite here to participate in the cultural activities, which are followed by community lunch. We try to celebrate the festival in our own traditional way,” noted Nair.

Onam without the taste of exquisite cuisine and the Sunday afternoon feast was the cynosure for all Malayalis. The Onam feast was mouth-watering fare comprising several delicacies like various curries including Sambaar and Rasam, followed by Aviyal (mix of vegetables), Kuruk Kaalan (based on Curd), Toran (green vegetables along with coconut) accompanied by a variety of pickles and wafers, served on plantain leaves .

The finger-licking lip-smacking meal is complete only when the last drop of Payasam is polished off together with the traditional fruit – the banana.

N Suresh, a member of the community, said that there is an explanation for this emphasis on food, as Onam celebrates the arrival of a portly demon-king, Mahabali. According to folklore, Mahabali, the Asura king who ruled the state, was so fair and just that even the gods became insecure.

To teach him a lesson, he was pushed into the netherworld by Vamana, the fifth avatar of Vishnu, but was allowed to come and meet his citizens and enjoy the splendour of the state on Onam.

“Not only at Kerala Samjam premises but decorations can be seen everywhere in the form of ‘rangolis’ and ‘pookkalams’ (with flowers) in front and inside of our homes.

There is a tradition of bestowing Onakkodi (new clothes especially purchased for Onam) upon the younger members of family by the elder ones,’ noted Suresh.

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