We Indians have such a great cultural heritage that has given us so many beautiful festivals to celebrate. Unlike the olden days, globalization has bought all of us together under one roof. One major pro to this periodic effect is indeed unified festive celebrations. Getting to know the culture, tradition, lifestyle and cuisines of each and every group of people is the greatest experience, everyone loves to take.
But the fast changing world has hampered the essence of these celebrations. Event management groups and upcoming pioneers in business that promise to make human life to be at ease, has made a dramatic shift to the age old trends. Onam an annual festival is the most awaited festival by every single Malayali in the world. Not just the Hindus, but every Malayali regardless of their religion celebrate this festival since it is the time of unity, peace and love.
Two days in to Onam to arrive, my mom was high on her schedule from cleaning the home to planning everything for the Onam feast. She was very happy with her busy schedule and this astonished me. I told her when its just about the Onam feast that makes this festival very special why is everyone so excited. She took a break from work and smiled at me saying, ‘Onam is best to be celebrated when you are young. For you have a lot of task to do other than just cooking and cleaning’. She continued, ‘The oonjal (swing) used to take its place on the tree in the veranda’. She paused, ‘There is lot more you never have know’ and got back to work surely, she missed it a lot.
Indeed she is true, not just the oonjal but there is much more than what everyone thinks of this festival. Onam arrives at a very special time of the year. After three months of poverty and hardships. The New Year takes in with the month of Chingam. The dawn of the ninth day of New Year or Attam marks the beginning of Onam. With beautiful Pookalam adorning the verandas, symbolizes the welcome of TiruvOnam on the Tenth day. Everyone gets busy with one or the other activity. New clothes, Oonjal, Pookalam (flower arrangement), Pulikali, Vallamkalli (boat racing) Tug of war and many more games starts one after another.
But today the swings don’t make their way on to the tree in the veranda. With every young soul coming by its way swinged high in the skies once. Turn by turn everyone loved the swing, because this one was very special. For now, we miss not just the oonjal but also the trees on the veranda. The pulikali (tiger dance) is played round the corner with no great essence left in it. Just for some bucks men painted in tiger like form playing around a hunter resembling the hunting .The rush and anxiety for the Vallamkalli, is no more seen anywhere. Just for the sake of tradition people get along the sidelines with their calendars and alarms sending warning signals about their schedules. No more children are seen running omnidirection to collect the flowers to make the Pookalam. Not sure where have all the dragonflies hidden. For even the kaikotti kalli with women dressed in beautiful Kasava saree making beautiful moves, in rhythm with the song, synchronously around the deepam is lost in the past. The Tug Of Wars in now played just between religion and politics and if ever somewhere it is being played with great excitement. Just check out the prize money for the winning team that will be given. Even people have started ordering their Onam Feast from nearby hotels for they don’t find time to cook their feast. When Lord Mahabali will revisit the Land Of Gods, he will surely miss all the good old days of virtuousness and humility. But HE will never stop visiting us every year because he is our beloved ruler and we HIS Beloved Subjects.
But don’t worry, you will get all this in one shot these days, when Malayali samajams celebrate Onam. All the celebrations that had to be done throughout the month is all squeezed down to one single day. What is left for Malayalis is just wishes that beeps on their mobile phone over whatsapp and facebook. Not even phone calls get their way in to someone’s schedule. The beautiful songs are lost nowhere, but on YouTube you will always find them forever. People have forgotten the good old trends, the beauty of the good old days everything is lost. Digging deep to find them back has left me shocked for they are nowhere to be found. For the beautiful days of 21st century with Augmented reality and Virtual Reality, Autonomous cars to 3-D printed things, for this age of the millenniums everything looks sweet. Deep down their creed, deep down their heart, deep down their souls they possess everything. But not those foregone days of beauty and peace for sure will never be relived forever. This ain’t just constrained to just Onam but to all other festivals. Not truly known, not truly enjoyed and not well celebrated. With life staying afloat to match with the pace of life.