Thursday, September 15, 2005

Hello, Onam? Its Maveli here!

Today is Onam, the harvest festival of Kerala; celebrated alike by all the Keralites! This is the fourth consecutive Onam I am away from my family and relatives. I feel jealous of Maveli (the king who once ruled Kerala). What if he was sent to pathaalam (underground; location of purgatory) by Lord Vishnu for a holiday, at least he is able to visit Kerala during Onam; and me... Well, it is not the time for such senti stuff. Onam is the time to enjoy, to celebrate and above all, to be happy!

I think it was in my 4th standard that I set an athapoo (Floral Carpet put for 10 days ending on Thiru-Onam) in our patio for the first time. Our house was well known in the village for its huge assortment of flora. Three cheers to my achan (father). So getting flowers for the athapoo was not a problem. But there was a threat. During Onam different societies (short lived co-operatives run by children & jobless majority of Kerala youth, which spring up during Onam even faster than a mushroom colony whose primary objective is to collect money in the name of Onam and secondary objective to enjoy life with that money) come to my house to get those flowers for their respective athapoo extravaganzas. So I have to surpass them to get the flowers for my athapoo.

After the sadya (lunch), children of our family assemble at my grand mother’s house where we play different games. One of my uncles would already have tied a swing in the jackfruit tree. In the evening there would be film shows (using a TV and a VCR) by the aforementioned cooperatives. Films like Vandanam, Indrajalam etc. were advertised heavily. My parents didn’t allow me to go and watch these films in the open air auditoriums aka road-sides. I continued this athapoo-ing for quite some time and it stopped somewhere in my high school.

Athapoo during Engineering, S5 - Designed by yours truly.

During engineering we had college level athapoo competitions. Our class put athapoo on all the Onams we got there. In college, someone will come up with puli-kali (a game with people wearing costumes of leopard) and stuff like that. Then there would be payasam (kheer / a sweet) distribution. In the evening people go outside their classrooms and what follows is a scuffle which even beats WWF, in what we call Ona-thallu. We also conduct Vadam-vali (tug of war) competitions and Uri-adi (madka-phod / breaking the pot) competitions.

When I was working in an IT company, a few of us decided to celebrate Onam in our company for the first time in its history. We wanted to put an athapoo in the reception. We went through all those hierarchical battles to get it approved by the admins. Well they can't be blamed for this. What if clients from GE and all see this at the reception of a Top 5 IT company of India on their visit to the company? When the athapoo was put, and the more than 1500 employees saw and appreciated it, we felt like having a cup of hot pal-payasam!

Now history is going to be written once again. We have planned to put an athapoo in our institute on Thiru-Onam. Yes, the first time in its history. I am just back after drawing the design. Early morning we will go to the nearby flower market. And I dont feel like sleeping!

Wishing you all a Happy Onam... Onashamsakal!

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Athapoo that we put today

Athapoo a bird's eye view


Fursat said...

me 1sssssstt..hehe..

Hey I have heard a lot about in books in school...but dont know much about it.

i wish you a very Happy Onam...may This festival brings loads of cherish in ur family.

thank u so much for being regular at my blog..God bless u !

>|' ; '| said...

onashamsakal jithooo!

Jiby said...

jithu, beatiful post many nice memories of Onam long gone by...i hope to write my own onam post after our celebration, deferred to this saturday! its sad though that in the surge of modernization we are losing quite a bit of the traditions that made this festival so unique. Happy Onam to all bloggers! Do put up the pic of the athapoo somewhere.

tangy said...

Happy Onam Jithu...nice post.

Sonia said...

Onashamsakal! :o)
this is my first onam with my family after 6 years! so i know how you feel! take care!
good luck with the atthapu!

silverine said...

In my compnay we are having an athapoo competition and all the mallus are wearing traditional clothes. Even some of the non mallus guys have come in white mundus to add to the spirit. Well my company is also an MNC but every Indian festival is celebrated and traditional decorations are represented in our lobby with pride!

Good post.


Arun Vishnu M V (Kannan) said...

hi, ente hridayam niranja onasamsakal(എന്റെയും ഹൃദയം നിറഞ്ഞ ഓണാശംസകൾ)

Matter of Choice said...

Me jez back after a sumptuous onam sadhya with my northie friends; they couldnt have enough of palada and erisseri :)

me had wonderful onams at home, school, college, work etc..this year it was quite low-profile though. still good!

Hope u had a good time at your institute with the pookalam etc..


gini said...

Hope the athappoo will turn out great and beautiful!

Jithu said...

> neetie
congrats for being first.. he he..

Thanx for ur wishes and also wishing u and ur family a happy onam...

> poison
thnx man and same to u too..

> jiby
thnx man! yeah Onam always brings in nostalgic irrespective of whether one is inside or outside Kerala.. awaiting ur Onam post. btw i had put the pics at the end..

> tangy
hey, a very happy Onam to u and ur family..

> sonia
Onashamsakal!! u mite've enjoyed a lot today right.. btw added the athapoo pics in this post..

> silverine
u hv enuf enthusiastic mallus in ur company for having a competition?? thts gr88!! Onashamsakal to u and ur family!

> kannan
Kannan kuttye, Onam enganendarnnu? adichu polichuvo? kannanum veettukarkkum ente vaka sneham niranja Onashamsakal!!

> matter of choice
kidilam.. we also had an Ona-sadya today.. ella itemsum undayirunnu.. yes v had a gr88 time here..

> gini
yup yaar, it turned out really well.. have a look at pics i have added to this post.. a very happy Onam to u and ur family..

divya said...

i had a good onam at home with family.....hope u enjoyed urs.
the pookallam looks nice....
happy onam !!:)

Jithu said...

> divya
thts nice!! yeah v too enjoyed a lot.. put an athapoo, had a sadya.. well, only that much i shud say ;-)) bt still the day was awesome!

A very happy Onam to u and ur family..

niki yokota said...

Happy Onam Jithu!! (^o^)/
flowers are soooo expensive in my country. we can never do that. soooo envy!! the design & colors of ur athapoo are really breathtaking!!!!!

. : A : . said...

Very interesting account. Happy Onam to you and your family!

Jithu said...

> niki
thank you.. :-) wt is not expensive in ur country? :-) A happy Onam to u and ur family..

> a
thnx man! A very happy Onam to u and ur family too..

.:: Rosh ::. said...

Happy Onam to you too. Thank you for visiting my blog. Was thinking that pookkalam looks familiar, but later realized after reading your post. Thats a wonderful design.

esvee said...

Hi Jithu,

Hope you had a good one..My onam was too good this year..just back from another sadya...
take care..have great days!

Jithu said...

> magic lens
thank you very much.. and a happy Onam to u and ur family..

> connectany
yup, v had a gr88 time indeed.. another sadya? u seems celebrating onam in all its glory :-) a very happy Onam to u and ur family.. :-)

venus said...

Happy Onam Jithu! You are really missing this celebration, u should may be plan your next visit to your family during this time.

Jithu said...

> venus
hmm.. yup, somehow i am missing those fun.. donno whether my professional life next year will allow me to spend my Onam at home, but yeah i will definitely have to try.. A very happy Onam to u and ur family...

Sonia said...

jithu: i see u like orange a lot! :o)

hope you're onam was good. mine was great! i think must have eaten enuff food to last me a week!

Hima said...

I hrd the story about the nice King and i still rem it ( i think)... he was sent to paatalam because of insecurities of all those in Heaven. Vamana (Lord vishnu)sent him to paatalam... Rite?

The Flower Athapoo is very pretty... and you made it yourself... woaw !!!

Jithu said...

> sonia
well.. not exactly.. that was the cheapest flower available.. :-) yeah it was nice.. even v had a sumptous ona-sadya..

> hima
yup, its the same was vamana, the avatar of Lord Vishnu.. i drew and a group of arnd 7 of us put it.. :-)

Mirage said...

Wo the flower decos look so pretty!
Happy onam!

Jithu said...

> mirage
thanx yaar.. and a happy Onam to u and ur family too..

hope and love said...

wonderful post..!!
and ur latest athapoo looks fantastic..!!!

hope and love said...

wonderful post..!!
and ur latest athapoo looks fantastic..!!!

Jithu said...

> HnL
thnx doc.. a very happy Onam for u and ur family.. :-))

sanaja said...

Belated Onam Wishes Jithu!!!

Akruti said...

Beautiful pictures there,Festivals have their own stories,dont they:) Belated wishes on a wonderful ONAM

Invincible said...

My belated wishes Jithu :)
Happy Onam !

and nice designs(, n nice post)

Jithu said...

> sanaja
thnx yaar.. hope u enjoyed ur Onam as well.. :-)

> akruti
True! and its these stories which are keeping those festivals alive even today.. A very happy onam to u and ur family as well.. :-)

> invinci
thnx man! happy Onam to u and ur family too.. btw long time no see.. :-)

Brood Mode said...

i understand! onam is no fun without family. me in the same state too

Jithu said...

> brood mode
hmm.. yeah :-( a very happy Onam to u and ur fammily :-))

Neil Padayatty said...

Belated Onaashamsakal Jithu!
Sorry I couldn't visit earlier. You see, I got too loaded up (with ada payasam) on onam that I slept through one whole day after Onam, putting my academic schedule in dire straits!
That pookkalam looks great. That's one thing we didn't do. I think we'll try to do it next time at the University!
And, did you find the good Mallu at your place? if not, do it soon. That place is bound to be closer to home!

Jithu said...

> neil
thnx man and a very happy Onam to u and ur family.. even here the same.. was fully loaded the last one week, eventhough i am outside kerala.. cool! u shall definitely do it next year in ur university.. no i cudnt find the good mallu here :-( ha ha.. have to :-))