Onam is probably the only Indian festival that is truly secular and has a beautiful socio-cultural relevance. And in that sense it’s very contemporary.
Onam is a harvest festival all Malayalees all over the world celebrate to mark the return of their legendary king Mahabali.
This year, I went along with my family for the first time to celebrate Onam as part of our community at Palm Meadows, Bangalore. It was truly a feast fit for a king!
The 10-day festival falls in the month of August-September. Malayalees prepare to receive Mahabali with various traditional celebrations which include floral arrangements, folk songs and dance and the legendary 9-course meal on a plantain leaf called Sadya.
It is an occasion for everyone to forget their afflictions and immerse themselves in the celebrations – to re-enact the golden period under Mahabali.
I have Malayali friends belonging to three communities – Hindu, Christian and Muslim and they all celebrate Onam with equal fervor every year.
This year my friend Manzoor Rahman sent me a hilarious video of him dancing in a mundu (sarong) on the occasion of Onam along with his saree-clad Hindu guy friends on stage at a local Bangalore church. Now, that’s the India of my dreams.