Staff Reporter

Bangalore: It strikes most people as curious that a cultural association for Malayalis should have a name like East Cultural Association (ECA). “People mistake the ECA to be an association for people from the Eastern regions of the country,” laughs M.K. Soman, Joint Secretary of the 35-year-old cultural association. “The ECA was headquartered in Bangalore East initially and that is how it got its name,” Mr. Soman explains.

The association, on 100 Foot Road in Indiranagar, is a beehive of activity ahead of its 33rd annual Onotsavam (Onam fiesta). Although the actual festival was on August 27, the ECA always schedules its Onotsavam after the main festival. “People like to spend the main the main festival with their family and friends that is why we always have our cultural programs the following weekend,” explains ECA President U. Haridas.

The schedule for the two day cultural extravaganza, to be held on September 1 and 2, is packed— pookalam exhibition and competition, stand-up comedy by poet and satirist Chemmanam Chacko, mimicry performance, folk dance, singing competition, orchestra, percussion performances, dance dramas … the list is seemingly endless. It is a celebration of everything that is even remotely connected to the way of life in God’s own country.

The Onotsavam at the ECA has only gotten bigger over the years, O. Vishwanath, vice-president and chairman of the organising committee, says over 1,500 people are expected to attend the 32-course Onasadhya (Onam feast) prepared by master chef Ambi Swami and his 25-member team from Thrissur. Adding to the ambience will be a traditional Kerala chayakkada (teashop) which will serve scrumptious snacks such as pazham pori, sukhiyan and parippu vada.The vision statement of this year’s celebrations is, “Together we celebrate”. Mr. Soman explains that many of the 1,300 members of the ECA are non-Malayalis, “We want everyone in this city that has been so good to us to mingle with us and partake in our joy that is why the membership to this association is not restricted to Malyalis alone.”

However, the entry on the occasion of the Onotsavam is restricted to members, their families and friends.