Saturday, September 27, 2008

32. Tah Dah!

Yeah! Finally after days of contemplation, and battling against acute laziness, my blog decided to shed its maiden skin!:D

Though it has been quite sometime since the “to do or not to do” process began, the peer pressure(from fella bloggers) was so immense that I finally decided to do it!(It would be improper at this juncture, if I fail to mention multimenon who used to yammer away about the “dull-mundane-out-dated” template of my blog, every now and then, as though he had absolutely nothing else to talk :P)

For those of you who were aware of the fact that I had attended a course on photoshop during the vacations and are nodding approvingly thinking that it had done me good, well hold on…for I never had any role in the creation of this new template:P
All I did was coax Leela(a photohsop whiz) well enough, until finally she gave in and sent me the template as a belated B’day gift:D…Talking about Leela, she is this friend of mine, who I like so much for the ways in which she makes me feel a lot heavier(:P)Though she looks like a 13 yr old kid, her writing skills have made some people wonder whether she’s a 30 yr old litt grad!Yeah that’s enough of publicity for her I guess;)

And talking about birthdays, my ‘big’ day was on 12th August, so if anybody else feels like sending me similar B’day gifts, do send ’em ASAP before 1 more candle gets added to my B’Day cake;)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

31. Onam ’08-When traditions contravene …

Okay, first things first,some intro…

Onam is the biggest festival in the Indian state of Kerala. Onam Festival falls during the Malayali month of Chingam (Aug - Sep) and marks the homecoming of legendary King Mahabali. Intricately decorated Pookalam, ambrosial Onasadya, breathtaking Snake Boat Race and exotic Kaikottikali dance are some of the most remarkable features of Onam - the harvest festival in Kerala.
So there came the much awaited Onam ‘vacations’(that is, if you can call 4 holidays, including the weekend, a vacation :( ), and I made my way to the capital city of God’s own country. But what awaited me there was not any of the aforementioned breathtaking, exotic stuff…
To begin with, my house was in a state of extortionate mess. Our housemaid who has a knack of ditching our household at the most crucial times, did it again---just when I was home to enjoy the hols. Hmph! And the result –I had the honours of spending my hols tidying up the whole place and helping mom with kitchen work!

After the rain-drenched month of Karkidakam, with its privations, Chingam is a welcome month for people in the state of Kerala. The festival is the harbinger of spring — signalling the start of the harvest season.
But the way onam this time turned out was like, it might have made Mr Mahabali wonder if the calendar system in the ‘paathalalokam’(Hell-world) had gone haywire and had sent him here in the middle of the Karkidakam. Yeah man! It was raining cats and dogs during the very first day of Onam!!! But the cats and dogs apparently decided to give it a break and the next two days it was sweltering hot, sooo scorching hot that it made me wanna run back to my cool, cozy hostel room(yea for once the campus seemed to be appealing:O)

During Onam, the feast and festive mood of the people, dressed in their best, is conside
red reminiscent of the prosperous and truthful life of the subjects during Bali's flawless reign. People wear new clothes (Vastra) during Onam. The significance of wearing new clothes is about making the heart new by removing all bad thoughts and feelings.
Talking about new clothes, thanks to my spree of wearing new clothes during the last one week, I exhausted all my reserves of new dresses. And so on the big day(Thiruvonam), I found myself wearing, an old pair of jeans and my bro’s old t-shirt :|
What’s the new dress for anyway, when one is stranded at home. Well, dad developed this cervical spondylosis all of a sudden and he is to wear this neck collar for a couple of weeks. He is supposed to wear it 24*7 other than in bed. But because of his ‘acute shyness’ to walk around with the collar, he takes it off whenever other people are in the vicinity. This gave mom no option, but to have him house arrested. Needless to say that meant my house arrest as well :|

Onam epitomises the newfound vigour and enthusiasm of the season, and is celebrated with traditional fervour with visits to temples, family get-togethers and lots of merrymaking. Carnival of Onam lasts for ten days and brings out the best of Kerala culture and tradition.
Ah! but all the get-togethers that happened was that of the 3 of us(Mom,Dad pinne njaanum:D) assembled in front of the idiot box, from morning till evening :( and all the culture and tradition that I got to witness was that shown in the mallu movies, which seemed to have undergone a time dilation –for, the supposed to be 2 hr long movies didn't seem to end even after 4 full hours painfully ticked away. But one couldn’t expect more when they show bits and pieces of filmstrips in between the seemingly endless chain of ads.

Another speciality of onam is the ‘Onasadya’ or lunch, which consists of at least a dozen of pure vegetarian dishes, eaten from a leaf. There is a saying, "Kanam Vittum Onam Unnanam" which means "We should have the Onam lunch even if we have to sell all our properties" which shows the importance of the grand lunch on the Thiruvonam day. Even the poorest of the poor manage to find something for himself to celebrate the national festival in his own humble way.
Our first ‘Onasadya’ was from a neighbour’s housewarming party. It was as if they were having a non-veg fiesta out there –chicken, beef, fish…… That must have been the first non-veg onasadya that I ever had. Poor dad(a pure veg) had to adjust with just rice and daal. And for dinner that night, we had kanji(porridge) :( No complaints though, cos I know that it would backfire and would get me landed up in the kitchen. However we didn’t have the heart to screw up the Thiruvonam day’s onasadya as well. And I spent the evening, grating coconuts and cutting vegetables. Grating coconut…hmmm…that is one helluva task! Compared to it, filing at mech workshop seemed like a piece of cake…at least you had guys helping you out with it.

Carnival of Onam encompasses a spectrum of fascinating activities. Traditional people of Kerala even go out of their way to celebrate the festival exhaustive of stipulated customs and traditions in full grandiose. The mood of the people is upbeat all through the carnival and the high spirited people of Kerala are ever ready to indulge in merriment.
Yeah, so guess my Onam was indeed a ‘spectrum of fascinating activities’, lazying at home. But wait! What’s with all the whining and bickering? Isn’t being at home with your loved ones after 2 whole months, and being able to chat away to your old friends without having to worry about your phone balance, one celebration in itself? That was one lovely Onam after all;)