Even a Malayali on the moon can’t help but think of coming back home during Onam.
Onam is one of the biggest festivals in Kerala and is a time when every “Marunadan Malayali” feels a longing for home. We are a nostalgic lot, the tales we grew up with, the traditions surrounding the festival, the pomp, fanfare and the fond memories surrounding Onam leave a bittersweet taste on every Malayali’s tongue which leave us craving for a helping of “Sadya” and the smell of fresh “Thumbapoovu” on “Thiruvonam”.
It’s the one day where we can flaunt our Mallu swag.
While we would love nothing better than to wear a Mundu and Jubba every day, and curl up the tips of our stache a la Narasimham. The joys of wearing a Mundu are a luxury that often has to be sacrificed for the sake of conformity. We are forced into a life of wearing those beige “chinos of death” or even worse those contraptions from hell designed to restrict the onset of puberty “skinny jeans”.
God help those who come between a man and his Mundu on Onam. It’s our excuse to go all out in some breezy (excuse the pun) traditional attire and spend all day admiring ourselves narcissistic-ally.
Its “Sadhya” time!
This is the time we get to pig out and there’s nothing like the smell of papadams being “kachified” and the 26 “kootams” being prepared to set our stomachs rumbling.
Avial,Thoran,Mezhukkupuratti,Kaalan,Olan and Sambhar with a generous helping of Desi ghee. Nothing can satisfy our cravings better than a traditional “Sadhya” served on banana leaves and followed up with some sweet adapradhaman or payasam. If the names of all these dishes are confusing just show up at your Malayali friend’s house on Onam day and give them the old “puppy dog eyes”, routine they would be glad to make sure you get a taste of these tongue-twisting treats.
We go Bananas for Onam!
We seriously do. It’s the only time you will see 20 grown men fighting it out over quite literally a “Bunch of bananas”. No all Mallus are not secretly minions, the tradition of tug of war “Vadamvalli” and the prize of a bunch of Bananas “pazhakola” is symbolic of the first harvest and the roots of Onam as a harvest festival.
We take our culture very seriously. Like dead seriously!
Onam is a celebration of Kerala’s culture from the Sadhya, Thiruvathira, Pulikali, Kathakali, Thumbi Thullal to Pookalams (Floral carpets) and Vallamkali. It’s a celebration of dance, colors and the rich culture of the Malabar region. The celebrations are meant as a way to celebrate the homecoming of Mahabali the beloved king of the region. According to folklore the celebrations are reminiscent of the heights of prosperity and wealth of the Kerala kingdom under Mahabali’s reign.
We get to watch something other than reruns of “Aaram thampuran” on Asianet.
Every Malayali kid from the 90’s loved the Onam weekend as the latest movies get launched on Asianet and Surya TV as part of the special Onam programming. In the early days of slow BSNL internet connections and less blatant piracy aka the 90s these movies were special treats from the daily reruns that went on for months together.
We grew up listening to the legend of Mahabali
Mahabali is everyone’s favorite pot-bellied king and was a legend in the stories we grew up with. The benevolent king Bali or Māveli was a much loved Asura King, the grandson of Prahlada in scriptures. Onam is celebrated in Kerala to mark his yearly homecoming after being sent down to the underworld “Patala” by Vamana, an avatar of Vishnu. Dressing up as Maveli for Onam is one of the traditions and quirky aspects of the festival.
It’s a time for everyone to get together and forget their differences.
Onam is a time for everyone to celebrate and come together as Malayalis. It is a time when Malayalis all over the world celebrate the culture of their homeland. Malayalis everywhere host cultural programs and meet ups. Even the most humble Onam Sadya with a few friends and family is an occasion of joy and fills every Malayali’s heart with pride and no small measure of happiness.