The Onam Diaries: My Time at the Feast-ival - Part 1

  • Onam festival

    Onam, the harvest festival as it is commonly known, is Kerala’s much looked forward to event. For Kerala residents, it means a lot of things - meeting friends and family alike, wearing the customary onam saree (settu) or mundu, seeking blessings on the produce harvested, and lastly, the hearty spread for the Onam Sadhya. But what does Onam mean for a person who has never travelled to the south, let alone experiencing the festivities of Onam?

    Meet Abhilaasha Chopra, a north Indian by birth and a Musafir by choice, living in Mumbai, who allows us a peek into her diary.

    August 2014

    Day One

    After a brief struggle with my luggage that refused to budge courtesy - my mother overreacting to my solo journey to a friend’s place in Kottayam, Kerela. That meant dozens of medicines: in case I caught some unwarranted illness, a heap of woolens: in case of weather change, tons of North Indian food: in case I felt a bit homesick, and many such unnecessary (but according to my mother compulsory) precautionary measures. With one final jerk, I finally managed to get my luggage out of the narrow train door. With that final victory, the train slowly glided towards its next stop. By then, my breathing had returned to normal, and as I allowed my eyes to do a bit of wandering of their own, a strange feeling engulfed me, and left me breathless once again. The vapour that escaped the tea vendors kettle, the cool winds that blew possessed with a light whiff of the just wet mud, the shyness of the droplets that were one with the drizzle, I found myself saying.“Truly, God’s own country had an essence that none could match.” I sighed deeply as I gazed at the wonders that God himself had painted on this land.

    Onam dairies

    My childhood friend Serah had recently shifted to Thiruvalla, Kerala and had invited me to visit her ancestral home. Being the travel fanatic that I undoubtedly am, I jumped at the opportunity (after a series of discussions with my anxious parents of course) and after a lot of coaxing and convincing, I finally reached Thiruvalla, Kerala.

    As I exited the railway station, I found Serah waiting for me. One glance at my humongous luggage and she ran to my aide. Once again, I was left breathless because of the loading of my trouble some luggage onto the car! (Mental note to self : never overpack. Period)

    After a one and a half hour journey, made longer by the traffic, Serah’s ancestral home greeted me. What can be a true relief to a weary traveller than the sight of a lovely home with a brown roof, fresh flower garlands in the door way and a overwhelming aroma of home-cooked, healthy food? I couldn’t wait for the Onam Sadhya, or in common man’s lingo, the authentic Keralite meal!

    To be continued.....

    (To have an enriching experience like Abilaasha’s, book your Kerala tour packages and experience Kerala first hand.)

    Author : Roshal Mascarenhas