Another Onam has come and gone. And you also realize that there are a few things about it that remain fairly constant...
- The countdown that begins a month (or more!) in advance for those who can make it back home.
- The disappointment and gloom felt by those who cannot make it back home (and the ensuing jealousy towards those in the above category). Have to be satisfied with Onam celebrations at place of work or study (if any held).
- The highly skewed demand-supply situation as far as tickets (plane/train/bus) are concerned.
- The maddening rush towards all the bus/train stations a couple of days before and after Onam.
- The feeling of relief, comfort and happiness (all rolled into one) when you see your family at home.
- Shopping! (and/or gifting)
- The rise in prices of essential commodities and vegetables.
- The phone calls and SMSs to wish your family and friends a ‘Happy Onam!’.
- People in their new Onam attire (Onakkodi) visiting temples.
- A couple of marriage invites, atleast (it is an auspicious time of the year).
- Traffic blocks and increased congestion in the city/town areas.
- Lack of parking spaces (in the run up to Onam).
- Auto drivers charging higher rates; refusing to take people to some areas (basically, longer trips).
- The rains
- Onasadya and/or Payasam – made at home or parceled from a hotel/caterer
- Visiting paternal/maternal family place and having a family get-together of sorts
- Not to forget, ‘Onam Special’ programmes on TV! :
- Some, rightfully called, “Blockbuster” movies being aired
- Movies being aired as “Super Hit”, though you already know that they are “super flops"
- "Mini-screen-il aadyamayi” (First time on the mini screen) movies. And you begin to think that it’s being aired for the first time on ANY screen (mini or mega), because you’ve never heard of such a movie before and can’t even make them out from the trailors!
Interviews - A slew of interviews with politicians, film/serial actors, directors, singers, reality show winners… Topics mainly based in/around Onam of their childhood times OR how they will celebrate Onam this year. Sometimes a normal interview with a couple of questions on Onam. Now-a-days combination interviews are being done. Also one celebrity interviewing another celebrity.
Satires/spoofs/comedy - Mahabali’s visit to the Kerala of today (and his ‘shock’ at how things are!), political jabs, spoofs of famous Malayalam movies in an Onam/political/purely comical manner, parodies of popular Malayalam songs…
Musical programmes - Film songs regarding Onam, or old folk songs and the like
Documentary/Docu-drama - This kind was mostly shown on DD. It’s becoming less popular (ever since the private channels broke into the TV space)
Regular shows with an ‘Onam’ touch - The anchor(s) of the show, participants, judges, audience, etc. come in traditional attire; initial part of the show has talk about Onam; then the show progresses as normal; ends with Onam message and wishes
- News readers/anchors dressed traditionally
- News about increased vegetable and commodity prices
- News about Kerala’s over-dependence on neighbouring States for the vegetables, fruits, rice, milk, etc.
- The mismanagement of/problems in Govt.-owned outlets during Onam sales
- Onam special news – amusing/interesting things being done across Kerala for Onam
- NRIs and NRKs celebrating Onam
- BevCo outdid previous year’s sales for Onam period (!!)
I happened to see more news than I normally would (thanks to my dad, more on that in some other post).Some news that caught my eye this Onam:
Tharoor’s (third) wedding – THE marriage of the season. Enough and more of press coverage for the most-written-about-MP of recent times. It was indeed amusing and interesting to see Tharoor and Pushkar look like twenty-something year old lovebirds doing the three pheras, enjoying the Panchavadyam (with Tharoor whispering into Pushkar’s ears), the Guruvayoor visit, etc.
Concern for contaminated liqour – A news channel happened to show briefly about the concern some youth had regarding contaminated liquour from BevCo (Beverage Corporation, for those who MAY not know). It contained some particles or so, the news ran. And I thought – it doesn’t bother them what kind of fruits/vegetables/milk/meat/eggs they consume. These can be highly adulterated/contaminated/treated heavily with pesticides/the result of excessive use of hormones… And you eat it on a regular basis. But this fellow (who got featured in the news item) was concerned about contaminated alcohol. Hmmppphh!!
Increasing sales of liquour – Keralites (men mostly, and now women too apparently) and alcohol are inseparable for the most part. “It is easier for a Malayali to convince others that he does not drink tea than to convince them that he does not drink liquour!” said a Special Report on rising liquour consumption in Kerala (The Week, a couple of months back). I happened to hear a debate sort of, regarding this on TV this Onam, what with BevCo continuously breaking records every Onam season. Instead of examining why this is happening, what is encouraging alcoholism, etc. they were discussing the numbers, purely numbers. Is the increase in sales (amount) due to increasing price of liquour or due to increasing consumption itself? … Whatever.
World’s largest Pookalam (floral carpet) – ‘Snehapookalam’ (floral carpet for love/brotherhood) at Kozhikode became the world’s largest pookalam at an area of 17,622 sq.ft, completed in 3 hrs. The area was divided into 400 grids, and each team was assigned one grid to be laid out. 14,500 kg flowers, close to Rs. 6.75 lakhs…
Increasing trend for parceled Onam Sadya – As years go by, hoteliers and caterers seem to be laughing all the way to the bank. People prefer to buy a sadya rather than prepare one. Lack of time, lack of know-how (younger generation), nuclear families, convenience… reasons are many. If you’re ready to spend anywhere between Rs.125 – 175 (on an average) per head, you can have an Onasadya hassle-free. Hotels and caterers have already started the trend of opening and closing bookings (sometimes even weeks before Onam).
Pothole protest – We’ve heard of several creative ways of protesting against the presence of potholes on roads. Some youngsters decided that for Onam, putting a pookalam around them would convey the message!
Vanara bhojanashala – At a temple in Shasthamkotta (Kollam) every Onam the temple provides a sadya to the resident troupe of monkeys in the area. They even have a separate area meant for it in the temple premise (the bhojanashala). The monkeys know when (day/time) to come, apparently. They come, feast on the sadya laid out for them peacefully (unlike some human counterparts you usually get to see during wedding sadyas), and go away after the sumptuous lunch. How about that?!