Sunday, September 14, 2008
Since it is Onam celebrations here this week, I would like to share my Onam nostalgia with you. Onam was always a brilliant and unique experience to me, especially when I was a kid. First of all, we will get ten days of holiday 'coz of Onam and just before school closes for Onam, our first term exams will be over. So, we had nothing to worry about and ten days full of enjoyment.
It was a heavenly feeling. We could do what we wish. Onam special games will be there, especially the huge swing is what we look forward to. This swing, that we call "anjal oonjal" is made by tying a huge rope between two coconut trees and another two ropes of the swing will be tied to this rope's middle. It is not the normal swing that we see in parks. This will be at least three times longer. Playing in swing gave us the first feel of rollercoaster. We will push ourselves to the limit while in swing, doing tricks that only circus people do and swinging at high speed gave us the first adrenaline rush. Those of you, who have been in roller coaster or something like that, might know the feeling that comes inside your chest.
Then daily morning we made "athapookalam", which is made using flowers of various colors and types, usually circular in shape. See the picture. Daily morning, we will replace the flowers with fresh ones. Sometimes, we went around and stole flowers from other people's compound. The process is like this -- for ten days, we have to make this "athapookalam" and will remove this on the tenth day which is thiruonam or main Onam. We didn't maintain that ten day period 'coz most of the times, our exams will be over only five days before Onam.
Now going to the food part, another exciting part of Onam. Certainly, one of the most delicious food I ever had is the Onam feast, purely vegetarian, that happens only once in an year. It is not just the eating part; though kids, we will be involved in cooking also, helping our grand father and grand mother, hearing their childhood stories, how feast is prepared, watching food being cooked, it's a feel
ing that can only be experienced. The center of attraction of food is what we call "payasam". This, those who have tasted, know how delicious it is. "Payasam" is a combination of a lot of sweet smelling, tasty materials. So, as kids, it was our job to take these things from store to kitchen. On its way to kitchen, some of these will go into the kitchen and some of it will go into our stomachs.
The most important part of this occasion is the feast(lunch) itself. On Onam day, the feast is prepared only at our family house, where our grand father and grand mother live. We all are living near by, but on that day every one will get together at this house and together prepare the feast. We will all have food together, everyone sitting together around a big table and having food, adults gossiping about international/national/local/home affairs, we kids listening and gossiping our own little stories. That was the real Onam. Now, we all grew up, everything’s changed. Only one day leave for Onam. Today's Onam is all hi-tech. Everyone's bu
sy. Now, everyone prepares their own food and share with us, we do the same. But, it doesn't have the warmth or love of the old days.
Now, I myself have changed. Now, my Onam is all about going out with friends, to some place, have fun. But its repetition, it's the same thing that we do on a weekend, or on a holiday or Christmas. Is it really celebration? No, It is time passing, I think.
Now, for most of the people, Onam, like other days, is all about sitting in front of the TV, at their own home, ordering Onam specials from restaurants. Watching the blah, blah about some movie stars, watching some boring live shows. Even TV programs are now boring, isn't it? Some time back, only on special days, do we get a chance to see the movie stars on TV or a star studded live show. That had its effect. But now, daily we are watching stars on TV, watching live shows daily, reality shows daily, No variety.
Well, I know, there might be people out there wondering what this Onam is all about. For them, here is a short note about what I know.
It is believed that, once up on a time, a king called Mahabali [Name is Bali, Maha is similar to
Mahatma in Mahatma Gandhi] ruled Kerala. He was a really good king. A man of principles and values. Every one respected him and his fame reached even heaven. During his time, people lived happily and in prosperity. There was no crime, no poverty or anything bad. His country became equal to heaven in all aspects. The devas' became envious and anxious about Mahabali's fame and complained to Maha vishnu. Well, vishnu came to earth as vamanan and asked Mahabali for three foot of land. Mahabali, being a king who never rejects any requests, allowed v
amanan to take three foot of land according to his wish. So, suddenly, vamanan grew big and with his two
feet, he had taken all Mahabali had. So, since there is no place to get his third foot of land, Mahabali showed his own head for vamanan to place his feet and vamanan pushed Mahabali to underground. Since Mahabali was a man of principles, vamanan allowed Mahabali to ask for a single boon and all he asked was to see his people once in an year. So, it is said that once in an year, Mahabali comes to visit his people to see how they are doing and in memory of that Onam is celebrated.
Well, I am hearing this story since I was born. I still don't know, why Mahabali was sent to the underground. What did the gods want? No peace on earth? May be you could tell me...
PS:- This Onam, I was planning to go out with my friends for a trekking trip. But what happened was, right on the day of Onam, I fell sick with fever. I was affected with some kind of sneezing fit. All day and night, I was sneezing unstoppable, like a machine gun, with out any reason. My nose was like a water pump and I thought I will sneeze my brain out through my nose. [Egyptians took the brain out that way, right? Of course, not by sneezing, though]. That's why I haven't come to the blogville. But, now I am feeling better and my trip was dropped. So, this Onam, I celebrated on my bed sneezing. Now, that is a variety, isn't it? I hope there won't be any repetition.