Kerala’s harvest festival Onam, often called the season of plenty, is on Monday but the Covid-19 pandemic has taken the sheen out of the festivities across the state. For many the festival has been reduced to an indoor game– high-voltage celebrations have taken a backseat as concerns of safety are top priority for people.
True, tongue-tickling banana chips, beautiful floral carpets, high swings, boat race and golden embroidered kasavu dresses are difficult to spot this time. But people have taken it in their stride saying it is just a passing phase– this spirit keeps them ticking. From papad makers to flower wallahs to electronic goods merchants all have a story of loss and agony to share but they are ready to welcome their erstwhile ruler King Mahabali.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has urged people to stay home and avoid large family gatherings due to the prevailing situation. “Festivals will be there in coming years also. But we can’t open our gates to the waiting enemy now, so we have to be extra vigilant,” the CM said while wishing people on the occasion. Governor Arif Mohammad Khan also greeted Malayalees across the globe.
“Usually we make 28 dishes for the sumptuous Onam feast. Since no extended family members are around this time we reduced them to half. What to do we have to go by the new normal,” a family head in the Fort area in the state capital Lakshmikutty Amma summed up the mood. A feast on a plantain leaf is mandatory on Onam day.
In many households elders are behind c