Kerala smiles & shines for Onam amid security alert & sorrows

Representative image.

Chennai / Thiruvananthapuram: A security alert notwithstanding, it is Onam time again and Keralites are getting ready to celebrate the biggest festival of the State putting behind the havoc wrought by two consecutive floods.

As Kerala gets into the festive mood, police are maintaining tight vigil with the army receiving information that there may be a terror attack in southern parts of the country.

As a rampaging monsoon had claimed over 400 lives and destroyed houses and livelihood of people with many housed in relief camps, festivities were the last thing to come up in the minds of Keralites last year.

The government and organisations had cancelled official Onam celebrations. It was heart-wrenching to see people laying floral carpets and preparing “sadya” (feast) at the relief camps and wearing “onakkodi” (new clothes), distributed by charity organisations during Thiruvonam day last year.

Though flash floods and landslips caused concerns in the State last month also, it had caused less destruction compared to the August floods the previous year.

Though over hundred people had lost their lives and a large number of houses were destroyed or damaged, the State government has decided to go ahead with Onam celebrations this year as it would help people overcome the traumatic experience and focus on putting their lives back following the two consecutive floods.

The Kerala Tourism’s week-long cultural extravaganza to mark this years Onam celebrations started today, showcasing the State’s vibrant classical and folk dances, modern art and performing traditions. The fest would feature over 5,000 artistes of different genres and Thiruvanathauram, the State capital, alone would have programmes in as many as 29 venues, officials said.

The celebrations would conclude with a colourful cultural pageantry here on 16 September. Major roads, shops and buildings here would be illuminated by this evening. Colourful “pookkalam” (floral carpets) could be seen not only on courtyards of houses but also in front of temples and government and private offices.

Onam Sadhya

As the floods failed to dampen the festival spirit, the market, which had suffered huge loss last time, has now got a fresh lease of life. According to market sources, textiles and home appliance shops are witnessing heavy rush for the last several weeks. Major hotels and restaurants have already announced special “sadya packages” featuring at least 30 traditional delicacies and 2-3 payasam (sweet pudding) served on plantain leaves.

Based on the number of dishes, the price ranges from Rs 130 to Rs 425 per head, they said. Murugan, a flower vendor at the West Fort here, said despite soaring prices, flowers were in high demand in the local market.

“We buy flowers mainly from farms in Tamilnadu and Karnataka during the festival season. Colourful flowers like marigold, chrysanthemum and rose are in high demand for laying floral carpet. Jasmine and tube rose also have many takers,” he said.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said government has opened 3000 “onam markets” and 2000 fruit-vegetable shops to provide essential commodities and vegetables at a subsidised rate to help people celebrate the festival.

TN leaders greet Malayalis
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, PMK founder S Ramadoss and other leaders of Tamilnadu have conveyed their Onam greetings to Malayalis. In his statement, the Chief Minister, who has just returned from his foreign trip, conveyed his warm wishes to the people of the neighbouring State and Malayalis living in Tamilnadu.