Kozhikode

Preserving Onathaar for posterity in Kozhikode

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The changing times has made its impact on the age-old ritual which seems to be already fading away with only very few villages in the State observing it.

Vellarapoomala mele, Ponkinnam neetti neetti

Aakasha poomudi choodi, Mukilarappattu chutti

Onathaaradi varunne, Onathaaradi varunne…

The visual imagery of Onathaar, once a prominent ritual of north Kerala, has been vividly portrayed by Kaithapram Damodaran Namboothiri in this well-known song written for the Sathyan Anthikkad movie, Varavelpu, almost 25 years ago .

The changing times has made its impact on the age-old ritual which seems to be already fading away with only very few villages in the State observing it.

A 10-minute documentary, Onathaaradunna Gramam, by Anoop Neeleshwaram, a journalist from Kasaragod district, is an effort to preserve it for posterity, before it disappears completely from our cultural milieu.

“The idea of a documentary on the ritual struck me when I was on an Onam-related assignment a couple of years ago,” says Mr. Anoop, who scripted, directed and produced the documentary.

“I had a feeling that this ritual wouldn’t last long and that is why I embarked on doing a documentary on it,” he says.

Onathaar is based on the myth of Mahabali and his revisit to his former kingdom to take a look at the wellbeing of his former subjects. Besides heralding the nostalgic memory of a prosperous and all-perfect time of yore related to the legend, the work fairly answers all basic questions related to its performance, including when, where and how.

The backdrop of the verdant villages of Neeleswaram in Kasaragod, where it was shot and the sheer nature of the ritual and its colourful costumes give a special appeal to the work. Mr. Kaithapram himself gives a commentary on the past glory of the ritual.

Speaking at a function here on Monday to release the documentary, Minister for Cultural Affairs K.C. Joseph said that the documentary was an effort in preserving the cultural richness related to Onam for posterity.

Mr. Kaithapram was present.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 5:27:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/preserving-onathaar-for-posterity-in-kozhikode/article6331128.ece

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