Monday, September 16, 2013

Celebrating Onam my way!

This year's onam is over. There has been a lot of debates online and offline about the correctness of Onam, politics of Onam, Food and Onam, Clothing and Onam, Caste and Onam and so on and so forth. The way we celebrated Onam might say something about our standpoint in celebrating onam or any other festival for that matter. To make it very clear in the beginning itself, we are not for the Brahmanical Vegetarian Onam where you only eat vegetarian delicacies and commemorate the birth of Vamana. 

This is how our Onam went this year. The previous day had a gathering at a friend's place. We had a good lunch. We met a lot of people, most of them we met sometime last year. It turned out to be an occassion where you could sit and relax and talk about how much the kid's have grown or in my case how much weight I have lost lugging a toddler around or how much more I will lose when the kid starts running around etc etc. It was fun. It was relaxed. It was calm. There were friends. There was cheer. There was happiness. It was Onam. 

It was also our son's first Onam. When you live away from your hometown, these celebrations of local festivals are one occassion to remind you that you have roots elsewhere. I see it as a time when I can tell my son the story of the great king Mahabali and how the cunning Vamana tricked him into giving up his kingdom. I can tell him what it means to be cheated. I can tell him how to be graceful even when you accept defeat. At a later stage, I can even tell him all about the caste system and how it was portrayed through myths, stories, and so on. It is such a powerful story I want to be told to my son. We love good stories here. 

The onam day morning was a regular work day for the adults and the kid in the household. The father went to teach, the mother sat down to do a quick illustration of Ravana, the great Asura king. I was inspired by the Asura week happening in English and Foreign Languages University to celebrate the Asura. Check out some details from the work. 

Then we cooked good food.

Here is the Onam Menu.

1. Rice
2. Sambar
3. Kappa (Tapioca)
4. Payar Poriyal (All prepared by Justin)
5.  Dry Prawns Chutney
6. Parippu Payasam (Prepared by your's truly)

It was such a good lunch, we crashed for nearly two hours after that. About the brahmanical food pattern followed so religiously during Onam, well we don't give too much attention to that.We eat Roti and Sabzi pretty much every day in Delhi. This was the day we could chuck work and spend some time to cook Rice, Kappa and a curious mix of veg and non veg Malayali food. Back home, I hear that mom made Chicken Biriyani and Ada Pradhaman for Onam. "Who can afford vegetables?" is what she asks. Point to be noted. I heard that they hired a truck to shift them to the bed after lunch.

We wore nice 'nouveau' mallu clothes aka kasavu clothes. Now we have a lot of divided opinion about this offwhite fabric with golden zari. I don't view it as a savarna costume. Check out the savarna photographs of olden times. It was either plain white clothes or no clothes. I find this fabric pretty. We spent our pre lunch minutes to dress up and take pictures.
Here is Dan in his kutti mundu. He wore it for a nanosecond and then pulled it out and walked around in underpants. That was Onam for him.

This is a blurred photograph which sums up my life right now. A messy room with toys all over, a very wiggly kid who refuses to sit still for a picture and a truck load of happiness. This was onam for me.

And now the customary family pic. Both of us posed well to the camera that was set on self timer. Dan was confused why we are sitting in this weird fashion, staring into the wall. I guess his face says it all. The best part about Onam is the leftover food in the fridge. You do not have to cook again for two more meal times. I love it.


  1. Loved the post! The irreverence, the defiance, the illustrations (OH. MY. GAWD. Ravana ROXX!!), the menu, and Dan! :D Belated happy Onam! :)

  2. Dan oru kutty karanavar ayallo :)


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