Malayalis’ shopping list on the eve of Onam now include an item, the thought of buying which would leave their forefathers turn in their graves.
Urbanisation and consumerism have caught up with the Malayali society to such an extent that they now have to buy plantain leaf, which was a common sight in majority of households until a few decades ago, to serve their sumptuous Onasadya.
Vendors selling plantain leaves on the eve of Onam have become a common sight in the city. Kunjumon, who stood at a busy joint near Vyttila with a stack of plantain leaves, was among those catering to an ever increasing clientele.
He had about 500 plantain leaves to offer priced at Rs. 5 per piece.
He had procured it from Aluva, where, he said, plantain leaves were available in abundance.
“Last year, I sold about 500 leaves at the same price. The sale is usually limited till the afternoon of Uthradam,” Kunjumon said. He, however, said that he was not rigid with the price since majority of his customers were commoners.
So, sometimes he gives a leaf free of cost or charge a rupee less for each piece.
As if to prove that he charged one of his customers only for five leaves while he actually sold six.
But Shiny, a housewife and recipient of that beneficiary, countered that claim of large-heartedness by showing a hole in the leaf that was sold “free’ to her.
“We are buying everything for Onam now. Then why not plantain leaves,” Shiny asked.
She had plantain trees in her property before they were lost when a new house was built there.
But buying plantain leaves from vendors is not the only option.
For those not particular about having their Onasadya in plantain leaves, there are the green-coloured paper leaves that look like the original plantain leaves.
A wholesale shop dealing in paper products in Broadway sell them at Rs. 90 for 100 pieces.