The high spirited Malayali students on UoH campus celebrated Onam with gaiety and fervour at DST auditorium on September 12. A youthful cultural evening was organized by Kairali Association, a collective of the Malayali students on campus, to celebrate the festival of Thiruvonam.
The programme started at 6 pm with the lighting of lamp by King Mahabali, played by Mohammed Anvar of 1st semester MA Communication, followed by a welcome dance. Students performed traditional danceforms like Thiruvathira, Margamkali, Oppana and Kolkali. Girls were draped in their traditional kasavu sarees with jasmine flowers adorning their hair and boys in mundu and shirts. An intricate design with flowers, called athappookkalam (or floral carpet) was made at the entrance to mark on the special occasion.
The show was hosted by Sidharth Varma (1st MA Communication) and Arathi R (2nd MA Applied Linguistics). The presentation on the rich cultural heritage of the state encapsulating the spirit of the diverse artforms, festivals and literature was a treat in itself. The programme ended with a sadya (big feast) that laid out close to 22 food items including payasam (kheer).
“I liked the food, it was very tasty specially Payasam and pineapple pachadi. This is the first time I got a chance to taste the Kerala cuisine, and to see their tradition of serving food on banana leaves.” said Pujarini Das, 2nd MA Philosophy.
Although only 300 Keralites are studying at UoH, more than 700 students attended the feast. Guest coupons had been handed out before the event and many students accompanied their Malayali friends to enjoy the traditional feast. “It’s a good feeling of togetherness when you are away from home; to celebrate something which is so important for everyone in Kerala,” Tresa Benjamin, Chairperson of Kairali Association, told the UoH Dispatch team. The festival of Onam is celebrated in the Malayalam month of Chingam that falls in the end of August and the beginning of September. It is a harvest festival and celebrates the rewards of nature after a year of hard work. It is celebrated for a period of ten days, starting on the Atham day and continuing till the tenth and the biggest day called Thiruvonam.
Mytholigically, Onam is a joyous annual reminiscence of the golden rule of King Mahabali, an Asura King, who ruled Kerala centuries ago. It is believed that the Devas, who were jealous of the following the King had, sent Lord Vishnu in the form of Vamana to take his life. Onam recalls Mahabali's sacrifice, true devotion to God, and ultimate redemption and welcomes the King to his land annually with celebrations aplomb.