Friday, September 20, 2013

Ganesh Chaturthi and Onam Came and Went

A few thoughts for this week because of things of an emergency nature, well sort of. Our computers (desktop and laptop) decided to die on us and all hopes of getting it repaired were squashed by the computer fellow, a dour man of spare words, as the fraternity tends to be. We have no alternative but to use the neighbourhood cyber cafe where computer keyboards are often stuck because of children using them for gaming. Well, gaming is becoming huge and some days back they had this information of BBC that games sell more than feature films at their openings. Gawd! Here is technocommercialism at its worst, and the most affected are young minds. I have seen the types: know-alls, their hair like uncut grass, unwashed, noses and faces oily like a fish, clothed in atrociously faded jeans which show tears instead of hiding them.

Well, be that as it may. I may be wrong, they might be the rebellious generation that will make good in the end. But the way they are going they are most likely to end up in hospitals by the time they are in their forties. Don't say you read it here. Because some young people I am close to belong to that category.

Ah, hum! Ganesh Chaturthi came and went with the usual burst of noises. The neighbour had a Ganesh and we had to visit it and see the decorations. It was done nicely, and they were awake for five days playing cards and making a lot of noise in the process.

Then came Onam, the favourite festival of Malayalis. Onam, which is a celebration of sorts of Mahabali, the asura king of Kerala, comes during the harvest season and because of this it is a double whammy. Mahabali, being an asura, is not worshipped, however, the one who sends him to the underworld - Vishnu in the avatar of Vaman - is an object of adulation during this time. It is said that Mahabali was a benevolent dictator in whose reign the subjects saw prosperity and goodness all around, and because of this the Gods became jealous.

Onam, rather elaborate in rituals, actually starts 10 days before the actual day, and goes on for another 4 days making it a total of 14 days of celebrations. Today being the third day after Onam is called Poorittathi and tomorrow is Utharittathi which the last day on which snake boats race in the rivers of God's Own Country. The festival is also a celebration of vegetarian food and no non-vegetarian food is not supposed to be eaten. We don't know whether the old ardour still exists in the celebrations. Today, in the whisky-and-arrack-sodden countryside of Kerala it's more of drinks and non-vegetarian food that is being consumed.

An Onasadya consisting of more than 25 dishes is a treat to the palate and, on Sunday the local Kairali is celebrating Onam with a grand Sadya - feast - containing these delicacies of Kerala. We are eagerly looking forward to it.
The Pookalam, or, Rangoli made from flower petals, is an integral part of Onam celebrations.

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