Onam is special, the festival of Keralaites. Nanma (goodness) is in focus here, and not any religion.
I remember the childhood days when we used to have the Onasadya (a sumptuous meal of umpteen dishes served on banana leaf along with rice). All vegetarian, which in itself is something special for a family having non-veg three times, if not four, a day.
We Malyalees celebrate return for a day of the Asura King Mahabali, who’s the role model for anyone wanting to be a good ruler. The goodness breeds jealousy and he was banished by the celestial powers in what was a cheating game. The only goodness shown to the good king was permission to return and see the subjects, once a year. And we celebrate the season of his return as Onam.
And we want to show our good king that we are good, so that he can go back happy.
So Onam is of plenty, happiness and above all goodness.
Job took me to different places, different continents, but the tradition was preserved, except that the sadya (food) was mostly brought from outside.
But this year it’s getting back to tradition when my dear wife decided to cook the entire thing, herself. And here I am, ready to relish the feast.
By the way, the absolute tradition is to have the meal squatting cross legged on the ground, along with family and friends, and served on the banana leaf by enthusiastic youngsters. Along the way, there was a stage when sitting on the floor cross legged was a challenge. Now that I can do it again, may do it, perhaps next Onam.