Remembering Onam Fondly

“Onam at the Carmel School was a vivd celebration of life and color!”

You will be hard pressed to find me turning down an invitation to an Indian cultural event. The Onam celebration at the Carmel School, Khaitan is one event I’m really glad I showed up to. Although it took place a couple weeks back, I still remember it fondly.

Onam is is essentially a Hindu festival commemorating the return of Kerala’s beloved King Mahabilli but Christians and Muslims have taken it as their own hence why it’s best described as a major state holiday rather than a religious one. Kerala, as a whole, is one of the few Indian states where people of all three faiths live in perfect harmony. Trivia: Kerala was also once home to a sizable Indian Jewish population.

Upon entering the school, I was given a very warm welcome by the school administration. They lead me to the gymnasium where there were rows of people enjoying, what I’ve always considered one of the best vegetarian meals I’ve ever had, the fabulous Onasadya, a colorful array of vegetarian stews served on a sturdy banana leaf. You really don’t have to be a non-flesh eater to love it. Most people I know who tried it aren’t but they all lapped it up!

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Onasadya

Among the stews were the South Indian staples, Rasam and Sambar, both lentil-based as well as a personal favorite, Avial, a sweet and savory vegetable and coconut concoction. I’ve already had the pleasure of enjoying Onasadya before at my usual haunt, Udupi (which I took a certain blogger to 😉 ) but it’s a meal I’d gladly have all the time! I would just like to assure people that like Thalis, servings of any of the stews are unlimited!

Communal eating is the best

Communal eating is the best

Admittedly, the only item I was apprehensive about at first was the banana chips. I love bananas but G-d do I loathe, and I mean loathe, dried fruit. To my amazement, the banana chips did not taste at all like bananas! In fact, the taste was much more akin to potato chips! I’m now hooked on them, they can be readily found in Indian supermarket chains like Gulfmart and Grand Hypermarket and if you really need an extra incentive to buy it, besides it being delicious and all, then think of it as a healthier alternative to potato chips.

After I scraped off every last morsel of food on my banana leaf, I was escorted to the school auditorium where various dance troupes, comprising of the school’s students, dazzled everyone in the audience with their sleek dance moves and boundless energy. Some of the highlights included a performance that featured Bollywood anthem du jour, Indiawaale and a bewitching traditional Kerala dance accompanied by beautiful karnatik music. I also thoroughly enjoyed the skit several housewives put on, I don’t understood a word of Malayali but their youthful spirit and grand finale, a hilarious shimmy to Chennai Express’ “1,2,3 & 4 (Get On The Dancefloor)” made me smile from cheek to cheek.

Indiawaale!

Indiawaale!

Dancing like Deepika -Nagada Sang Dhol

Dancing like Deepika -Nagada Sang Dhol

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Traditional Kerala Dance With Karnatik Music Accompaniment.

Alas, I could not stay for the entire show, which I believe ran for four more hours, on account of how little sleep I had the night before. However, I want to thank Carmel School from the bottom of my heart for putting on an incredible show and for giving me a very warm welcome. Onam at the Carmel School was a vivid celebration of life and colour!

A Pookalam - an intricate design made up of flowers or colored sand.

A Pookalam – an intricate design made up of flowers or colored sand.

 

 

Rashad

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