Sunday, August 22, 2010
I was thinking of writing something up for non-malayalees about our special festival 'Onam'. The fervour and pomp with which malayalees look forward to it and celebrate it, makes the others wonder about it.
Though I might not be the right person to tell anything as 'facts' about Onam, I would be pleased to share some of the information which I believe to be facts (might not what they actually are).
This is about the famed 'Uthraada Paachil'. Uthradam is a star, like many others which constitute the stars of Malayalam calendar. It falls on the ninth day of the 10 day Onam celebrations beginning from the day of Atham star,which itself is quite popular for the Tripunithura Athachamayam procession. The 9th day is also the Second off the three last and important days of the Onam festival. This is the day the malayalees prepare for the mega feast and the 'kalaashakottu'(grand finale) on the last and tenth day of the festival called the Thiruvonam (star also same name).
Traditionally, that is the day the people go out and purchase groceries and vegetable to prepare for the feast as well as buy gifts and new dresses for themselves. Thousands of big and small shops and vendors throng the towns and cities, with lots of attractive offers and prizes being given away for the festive season. A massive crowd also wanders through this mad sea of traders and equips themselves with the best and most colourful dresses and accessories.
For the last one decade, with respect to the city of Kochi, which has grown exponentially in that period, this crowd has always rendered the city immobile and unfit for any kind of automobile travel. Walking used to be the best bet, for anyone with some sense in their heads. Shops and roads in the main parts of the city (MG Road, SA Road, NH, etc etc) used to swell up with people moving in and out, crowding places giving great offers and skimming through other shops. Off the 10 days, this day is one when all emergency services are kept on full alert and police deployed to maximum capacity, to handle any untoward incidents. Usually most of the police force is deployed to manage the crowd and assist the traffic.
This time the crowd and traffic was heavier on Saturday (Puradam) than Sunday (Uthradam). It was raining as well yesterday, whereas today the climate was fit for shopping and general roaming around. Kochi being a heterogenous to-be-metro city, appeals to almost all kinds of travel bug bitten (/not bitten) people of the world. I was surprised to find the roads almost vacant and crowds not larger than normal today. I guess the Uthrada paachil just became a Purada paachil. I believe it is due to the 'IT' effect or the 'Gulf' effect, with most of employed malayalees having to leave for work on Monday itself. It might have caused the Onam celebrations to end in many homes before the traditional Thiruvonam day.
I saw many families having big feasts today and aged parents and/or kids waving goodbye to their young sons/parents who have to return to work, due to lack of leaves. Compared to yesteryears, a considerably higher amount of Kochiites or Malayalees as a whole are into the IT sector.Afterall it is a known fact that, you can find a Nair's tea shop even on the moon. Due to this kind of work culture, it is quite natural to see this kind of shift in traditional practices.
The above observations and explanations are a result of my own thoughts and ideas. Anyone having supporting/opposing ideas/thoughts please add to the comments. Any kind of passing comments also accepted, as long as it is fit to be displayed on the site.
Happy Onam to all malayalees, and happy onam to non-malayalees also.
Malayaligale malayaligal aakiya non-Malayaleesee... Ningal illathe njangalku enthu aaghosham? (To the non-Malayalees who made us malayalis malayalis...Without you guys, what kind of celebration can we have?)