PEOPLE Today is Onam, and Bangalore reiterates its inclusiveness with non-Malayalis joining in the celebrations with gusto, writes NEETI SARKAR

Mark Twain wasn’t wrong when he said: “In religion all other countries are paupers; India is the only millionaire.” Today is Onam and while the festivities in Malayali households have been on for the past nine days, MetroPlus finds that non-Malayalis too are quite upbeat about celebrating Thiruvonam, which marks the culmination of the 10-day festivities.

Associated with harvest in Kerala, Onam is celebrated by everyone in the State.

Priyanka Agarwal, a HR consultant who moved from her hometown Delhi to Bangalore three years ago, says, “The first time I was part of Onam celebrations was in 2010 and I couldn’t quite understand why all the Keralites in office were dressed in traditional sari or mundu. I admired the beauty and the vibrancy the festival brought with it and since then I’ve always looked forward to celebrating festivals the way my friends in South India do. It is so different and so enticing.”

Athena Gomes (24) who works with an ad agency says: “The classic white and gold sari is so elegant, I just had to purchase one this year and since most of my colleagues are Malayalis, it would be nice to dress like them and not feel left out on Onam.”

For Tania Soans, a collegian who did her schooling in Kochi, Onam is a festival she looks forward to.

“In Kerala, we get a good number of days off from school for Onam so when I joined college here last year, I really missed not being on vacation. I used to enjoy the pookkalam competitions we used to have at school and now I help my Malayali neighbour gather flowers for the pookkalam she makes in front of her house.”

The highlight of Onam is the Onasadya, the nine-course meal consisting of 11 to 13 essential traditional dishes served on a banana leaf.

And with the umpteen Kerala cuisine restaurants and five star hotels around the city hosting the feast at special rates, non-Malayalis too are flocking to partake of the elaborate fare.

“My best friend is from Kerala and we’ve known each other for over a decade now and there hasn’t been one Onam when I haven’t been invited to her house for the Onasadya. The feeling of belonging is what I love most about the festival,” states Ankita Singh, a homemaker.

In a time and age when we all burst crackers on Deepavali, pull pichkari pranks on Holi, hang a star outside our homes around Christmas, and wait to devour biryani on Eid, the optimist would believe world peace isn’t unattainable after all!