What’s up for Onam at Technopark

Onam is already in the air in Technopark, even as Malayalis across the world are only getting ready to celebrate the festive season. Then again, this is Technopark we’re talking about. After all, the folk there do take pride in being a step ahead. And that also means celebrating Onam in a style quite unimaginable to most of us. From Mavelis, Vamanans, Pulikali and Pookkalams to traditional Onam wear, games, songs and scrumptious sadyas, the techies seem to have it all covered.

“Onam is by far the biggest celebration on campus, even bigger than the annual mass revelry that is Tech-A-Break. The best part is that each and every one of the 250-plus companies will be celebrating Onam. Celebrations will be on till at least next Friday (September 12) before everyone heads home for the holidays. It’s a fun time to be in Technopark. For example, on every floor someone or the other will organise chendamelam and it’ll be a battle of who can play the loudest. Unlike Tech-A-Break, Onam’s not about competition, it’s more about camaraderie,” says an employee of Ernst and Young.

She adds that E&Y, which employs some 1,400 people, has a host of programmes for Onam. “Every year we hold a payasam contest, a bay decoration contest, a Pookkalam contest, and so on, all of which are hugely popular – we divide the employees into four or five teams for the purpose. We also organise fun Onam games – this time we’ve stuck to indoor games in the cafeteria because of the inclement weather and also the difficulty of organising outdoor ones,” she explains.

Similarly, most of the other big companies can afford to notch the celebrations up by a couple of gears. For example, a couple of days ago UST Global organised a sadya for some 1,000 of its employees who work on a particular project. They’ve also got a Pookkalam contest and a few other contests and games lined up the coming week.

Allianz’ and Infosys’ Onam celebrations are reputedly among the best organised of the lot. “This year we’ve got ‘Onakazhchakal’, where employees compete with Pookkalams, Thiruvathirakkali, Onappattu or any Onam related event. For ‘Kidilol kidilam’ participants are given seven minutes to entertain a crowd with Onapaatu, Vallapattu, comedy, mimicry, dance, or even by dressing up as Maveli. We also have a Maveli of the Year contest and the ‘Malayali Mannan’ and ‘Malayali Manka’ contest (best dressed male and female, respectively). Then there is a ‘Thenga pothikkalum thirumalum contest where participants have to de-husk and scrape clean a coconut. There’s also the more boisterous Onathallu (pillow fight),” says an employee of Allianz.

Infosys meanwhile, is starting off its celebrations with a rally today at what they call the ‘ship’ campus (11.30 a.m.), followed by a pookkalam contest and a traditional dress contest. Up next week are group dance and folk song contest, before the grand finale and DJ party on September 12. IBS, meanwhile, has a payasam mela planned as well as a stall selling puttu, apart from Tug-o-war, Uriyadi, and various Onam games.

That’s not to say the smaller companies don’t do things with panache. It is said that RM Educational Solutions India’s Onam celebrations can give any one of the bigger companies a run for their money. “Everyone’s got at least a sadya planned and will be putting up pookkalams. A few of these smaller companies even give Onakodi to their employees. This year we’ve heard that some firms such as E-Team Informatica India are heading out to nearby resorts to celebrate the occasion,” says a techie.

Sadya time

This year, perhaps nowhere in Technopark is it busier than at the Technopark club. It’s where most of the companies are holding Onam sadyas. “This year, since the club itself is managing the cafeteria, we decided to offer sadya. As such we’ve engaged a couple of additional cooks and 20 or so persons to serve lunch too for the occasion. It has turned out to be quiet popular and all the halls on the premises are booked up till September 12. At the moment we are able to cater to n number of people; in the main hall we can accommodate 450 persons in one go. We’ve priced sadya at Rs. 180,” says K. Sasidharan, administrator of the club.