Kerala came alive at the Onam fest 2003, organised by the Kairali cultural association.
FEASTING TIME: The succulent Onasadya. Pics: S. Siva Saravanan.
THE RAMAKRISHNA Kalyana Mandapam in the city was bustling with activity. And hectic preparations were on for a grand feast. But, not for a wedding. It was for a celebration of a different kind. Malayalees in Coimbatore had gathered to celebrate Pononam, the harvest festival of Kerala.
Though the Kairali Cultural Association organised the celebrations almost a week after Onam, to coincide with its fourth annual day, people from all walks of life enthusiastically took part.
The "Onam fest 2003" had all that Onam is known for - Sadya, pookalam and the Onam procession.
"Onasadya", the grand feast, comprised all the food items that one gets to savour on Onam. And, it was free. There was paruppu pradhaman, palada pradhaman, olan, kalan, aviyal, pachadi, injithayir, pazha murukku and a whole lot of other delicacies.
The Onam pookalam competition was the first event of the day. In the morning, the contestants decked up the corridor outside the mandapam with flowers.
The association had brought in Vasudevan Namboodiri of Thrissur and his team for preparing food. So the "Onasadya" had a distinctive Kerala flavour.
The palada and paruppu pradhaman were made in a huge varpu. "Pradhaman should be prepared only in this vessel as it allows heat to spread uniformly," Mr. Vasudevan explained.
For more than six hours, four persons kept stirring the dessert inside the varpu, adjusting the fire spread to ensure that the pradhaman tasted authentic. This dessert was the favourite with people asking for more.
Even as the feast was on, a person dressed up as Mahabali appeared and greeted everyone. By the afternoon, the venue was jam-packed. A colourful procession followed the feast. `Mahabali' led the procession with the Singari melam, theyyam, poo kavadi and panchavadyam following.
If the morning session was devoted to festivities, "Onanilavu", the cultural function in the evening at the VOC park grounds, was a `total entertainer'.
The star-studded show had performances by veteran actress Sukumari, actor Jayasoorya and comedian Indrans, to name a few. There were skits, dance and mimicry.
The audience applauded when the Sukumari came on stage, saying she was happy to see the crowd, especially the youth.
To everyone's surprise, she also danced to the song "Alaipayudhe kanna". When Jayasoorya made his appearance, there was an air of expectancy. And he did not disappoint.
He mingled with the audience and chatted with them, asking them about their favourite songs, movies and actors.
A skit featuring Sukumari and Indrans, foot tapping music and a dance performance by the Bansuri troupe were the highlights.
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