Kerala seemed to ring down the curtain on the deprivations of the pandemic years by celebrating Thiruvonam with gusto.
The festival offered a cornucopia of delights, from family reunions to sumptuous feasts and outdoor games.
The sights, smells and tastes of Onam seemed to transport Keralites back to an imagined past of plentifulness and prosperity.
Festive images from across the State flashed across television screens. Onam traditions unfolded with a seemingly renewed vigour.
Thousands partook in the Onam feast at Thrikkakara Temple in Kochi. Nine bedecked elephants were part of the elaborate temple ritual welcoming the mythical Mahabali. Law Minister P. Rajeeb and MPs Hiby Eden and Benny Behanan were present.
“Thiruvona Thoni”, a canoe carrying the pick of the Onam harvest for the Aranmula diety, arrived at a joyous reception at the temple landing.
Swings and floral patterns, the classic vignettes of Onam, were visible across Kerala. People renewed social connections and friendships and sported new clothes.
Resident associations organised various festivities, including feats of strength competitions such as tug-of-war and arm wrestling matches.
Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M. K. Stalin, posted a tweet in Malayalam greeting Keralites. He conveyed the Onam best wishes for “Malayali siblings”. He said Tamil literature portrayed Onam as the harbinger of new beginnings. It indicated the deep cultural and social bonds that united Dravidians. Mr. Stalin said distorted tales could not erase the memory of the legend of Mahabali as a just ruler from peoples’ minds.
President Droupadi Murmu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home MinisterAmit Shah greeted Keralites on the occasion of the festival.
However, the day was not without its share of unpropitious developments.
Nuns and priests of the Thiruvananthapuram Latin Catholic Arch Diocese joined coastal folk in a fast against Vizhinjam port construction.
Stray dogs continued to menace people across the State. In Kattakada, on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram, three children were injured in a stray dog attack.
The Health Department withdrew a batch of anti-rabies vaccine, further fuelling fears about the efficacy of the medicine. Vaccine failure accounted for a few rabies deaths in Kerala. Infant death was reported from Attapaddy tribal settlement in the Palakkad district.