Family Onam Google Meet.

There were about 73 participants including kids in this Onam celebration on Google Meet of Vellukunnel, Vettimuttikkavil, Thazhathu Vettikulam family wing.

What if we can’t meet in person, due to the virus related restrictions, the second best option is equally fun too.

Originated from the idea of my wife Sunu, and ably programmed by her, we had a good crowd of family members of us ten siblings from all over the world.

There were talks, games, dances, songs, quizzes and Onam rituals and greetings.

Dressed in Onam clothes, family members celebrated the happy festival, the best way possible.

We even had a Maveli (ancient king Mahabali, whose return to visit his Kerala subjects is what Onam is about) visiting us during the meeting and celebrations.

Happy Onam.

Family Onam Google Meet.

Onashamsakal! Happy Onam.

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.

Happy Onam.

Onashamsakal! Happy Onam.

Happy Onam! The Truly Involved Festival.

(Avatara Vamana splashes Bali’s head, and sends him to the Patala. photo Wikipedia)

Onam is special. It’s a celebration mostly by Kerala people when everyone, irrespective of religion, age or anything, is involved in the festivities.

Onasadhya, the very tasty vegetarian meal with numerous dishes, served on fresh banana leaves, is unique. For children it’s the new clothes, fondly called ‘onapudava’ to look forward to.

Onam is the homecoming of the famous and gracious Asura king Mahabali, who was deposed from his kingdom in a ‘trick’ act in the rivalry between ‘devas’ the God’s favourites and the powerful ‘Asura’.

The Onam celebration include a procession with a decorated Mahabali walking with the crowd with his special umbrella.

Onam also remembers the abundance during this king’s rule. For many Malyalees, a pot belly signifies abundance and prosperity. So the person dressing up as Mahabali is big pot bellied.

But actually Mahabali is ‘Mahabalawaan’ the warrior king and should be sporting six packs and not the pot belly.

The story most attractive to me was told by a professor of Tezpur (now again Sonitpur) in Assam. And now we have the Wikipedia details confirming the story when you search for Mahabali and Banasura.

Some extracts:

“Banasura is believed to have ruled the present-day central Assam with his capital at Sonitpur (present-day Tezpur, Assam). According to the legend, Banasura was an aboriginal king. Some other sources say that since Banasura, son of Asura King Mahabali who is believed to be central character in mythology and culture of Kerala, inherits his kingdom from his father and is believed to have ruled from Kerala. There is a hill named “Banasura hill” [3] and a dam, “Banasura Sagar Dam” dedicated to the memory of their great ruler’s son Bana.”

“The genealogy of Banasura is as follows:[9]

• Brahma’s son was Marichi

• Marichi’s son was Kashyapa,

• Kashyapa’s sons were Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha,

• Hiranyakashipu’s son was Prahlada,

• Prahlada’s son was Virochana,

• Virochana’s son was Bali,

• Bali’s son was Banasura”.

The professor told me that, Assam at that time was known as ‘Pathala’ the unknown place. When Vamana Muni didn’t have the land to measure the third step, the proud Mahabali asked him to step on his head and the muni got him banished to save the worried devas.

The famous theatre in Tezpur is ‘Ban’s Theatre. Original Assamese women attire ‘Mekhla Chadhor’ is similar to ‘Ottamund’ of traditional Kerala women. Both Malayalee and Assamese are rice eaters with even have puttu as uniquely special. (Cooking method only is different).

I am not seeing this story getting mentioned in the many write ups on Onam, and I am happy to see the details on Wikipedia.

Happy Onam!

Happy Onam! The Truly Involved Festival.