How Malayalis overseas keep the spirit of Onam alive


Nostalgic expatriates recreate a slice of the pageant fervour of their extra quick environment

Onam is glocal. From Anchuthengu to Amsterdam, Vamanapuram to Virginia, Dhanuvachapuram to Dubai… wherever there are Malayalis, this can be a time of festivities. Perhaps extra so for nostalgic expatriates, many of whom by no means fail to recreate a slice of the pageant fervour again dwelling of their extra quick environment.

Like Thiruvananthapuram native Lekshmi Sasidharan, who works in Amsterdam, for whom Onam is the event when she will get to rub shoulders with fellow Malayalis. “We have a collective, Netherlands Association of Malayalees (NANMA), that conducts grand Onam celebrations. Each year, one chosen city in the Netherlands would play host to the celebrations, where Malayalis would congregate,” says Lekshmi. This yr, it is the flip of Eindhoven.

However, as a result of of the pandemic, they’re spearheading a digital Onam celebration, replete with cultural programmes and competitions. “There are various contests like dance, music, short films and so on. One highlight is ‘Onam Diva’, which invites photos or videos of us in traditional Kerala attire,” says Lekshmi who has been busy with “the photoshoot.”

Krishna Prasad (second from proper) together with his household and mates throughout Onam final yr  
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Aju Paul, vice-president of Hampton Roads Malayalee Association (HRMA) primarily based in Virginia in the US, ,says the pandemic is not any hindrance to “keeping the spirit of Onam alive” for the small however energetic group of Keralites there.

“Until last year, the celebrations were vibrant, but this year, it is about risk mitigation. Onam programmes will go online and we have requested the members to send recorded videos of songs and skits that will be screened via Zoom,” says Aju, a local of Ernakulam.

Another endeavour below dialogue with HRMA is roping in performances artistes in Kerala who’ve been out of work since the pandemic and present the programmes through on-line platforms for a remuneration.

“Thanks to technology, the distance is not really a factor any more. Also, we felt that this way, it would be a solace to the struggling artistes as well. You don’t need a visa for this right?” provides Aju, who works with a healthcare agency. But one factor that could be a given is payasam. “This time, we can’t cook en masse for the sadya and so the focus is on preparing payasam and delivering them safely,” he provides.

Vocal for native

  • Deepa Seetharam, spouse of TP Seetharam, former Amabassador to UAE, says that they made it a degree to have a good time Onam, regardless of the place in the world they have been posted. “We would make do with whatever was available locally and it would be a community affair. While we were in Thailand and South Africa, floral carpets would be a grand affair as we had plenty of flowers in our garden. In other places, we would had to buy local flowers and make a pookalam with it,” she says over cellphone from Bengaluru.
  • She recollects fondly how households would pitch in to cook dinner the sadya and serve it. “We would celebrate on all three days of the festival and we have had some really important guests at home. Ingredients for the sadya had to be planned and bought early in some places like Geneva. In Mauritius, the sadya gave a taste of nostalgia to the residents whose ancestors had hailed from India. In China, I had to be really creative and the sadya was served on big leaves of Canna, of which we had plenty there,” she says.
  • Saraswathy Nagarajan

For others like Arjun B Nair in Stuttgart, Germany, although it is not a “holiday” throughout Onam, he’s nonetheless eager on making it a degree to have “a minimal sadya of sorts” on Thiruvonam.

“Nothing elaborate however simply rice, sambar, kichadi, thoran and so forth along with semiya payasam. It’s earn a living from home for me and in addition as a result of of the pandemic, I do not plan to step out to meet up with my Malayali mates in the metropolis,” says Arjun, an engineer. He is, nevertheless, wanting ahead to the Mollywood releases popping out on OTT platforms.

Sadya can be what Krishna Prasad and household in Dubai are pinning their celebrations on this time. “Usually, my friends and their families come over during Onam and we try to make as elaborate a spread as we can for lunch. However, because of the pandemic restrictions, it is going to be just me, my wife, Roshni JS, and our two-and-half-year son, Aarav. Since there’s time, we will be preparing two payasams — ada and semiya,” says Krishna, a local of Thiruvananthapuram, who works with an car agency in Dubai.

Malayali da!

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