New England Malayalee Association’s blog

September 3, 2008

Onam and Me

We invite Onam experiences and Onam related thoughts from Malayalees in the New Engalnd region. Please send your entries to pr@nemausa.org. Nikita Shalabh has written about her thoughts on Onam. Nikita is a 5th grade student at Sherwood Middle School, Shrewbury.

Onam and Me…

My dad is from the northern part of India and my mom is from the southern part. My mom’s family celebrates Onam in a big way.

Onam is an Indian festival celebrated only in Kerala. They dress up in their best clothes. The women make a design made out of flowers. This is called pookkalam. They make the pookkalam in front of their house at the starting of the celebration.

My favorite part of Onam is the food. On Onam you eat on banana leaves. They serve rice, 4 side dishes, varieties of pickle, and papadam. It is a tradition to eat on banana leaves. I didn’t get a chance to celebrate Onam in Kerala so far. I am hoping to do this in the coming year.

I interviewed my grandmother about how she celebrated Onam when she was young. She told me how they made henna by themselves. Henna is a color used to decorate hands. They pluck the leaves off the henna plant and then they grind it manually with a stone grinder. Then they mix with water and it becomes a paste. After they are done they put it on their hands and make the most intricate designs.

She also told me about kaduvakali. The men dress themselves up as tigers and dance around the street.

Her favorite part of Onam is the swing. They make the swing out of ropes and stems of palm trees. And tie it on a branch of a tree.

This year Onam is going to be on September 12th, Friday.

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