Thursday, August 6, 2009

In Lighter Vein -by Santhosh Kumar

Onam in Soup!
And Onam is around the corners. Being a top-to-bottom Keralaite I get jitters up the spine now when I hear that "Onam", the grand national festival of Kerala is fast approaching. I gave due thought to the reaction I get whenever I hear the word 'Onam' now a days.
Looking back, I see my boyhood and youth enjoyed what is called the Onam in full fervor: a lot of fun, eating, merrymaking and shuttling to Cinema Halls during those almost-a-week-long celeberations. The nascent smell of friend bana chips, wafers, and the umpteen number of dishes prepared by an army of houswives in union in our parental mansion called "Tharavadu", still lingers in my nostrils. It seemed then, the Onam days broke out for eating and merry making then. suddenly I feel sad, for being getting older and older without fail year after year.

Why I get jitters up my spine now when I hear Onam is just there? Though the times and lifestyles of mine has changed since my good old days, the aura of the very word Onam is still remains intact! Is that why I get jitters up my spine and is that why I get cold sweat down my neck when my children ask me 'Papa, what's Onam?'
I tell, gathering nerves, to my next-generation folks that no Onam these days. I also tell them the reason to foreget about Onam is the global recession.

But they insist that the markets are vibrant and there is nerve-racking promotions about "Grand Onam Sales" for everything man can conceive of. I wonder if there anyone who will offer a set of parents at a discount for this Onam so that i can beg them not to inculcate this festive feeling into my veins again and again.
My young girls knew how it all began.

I told them when they were having patience to listen to me, that Onam is our national festival and it is celeberated to comemmorate the return of the generous King called "Mahabali" who ruled our Kerala in the distant past. It was a time when gods and goddesses where wandering on this land not knowing what to do.

The only thing they still remember is that one God called "Vishnu" got jealous of the popularity of this King and he decided to cheat His Highness in disguise. The rest is, as they say is history or legend.

Whatever, when the King was pushed down to the bottomless hell by the cunning God, he asked the permission of the God to allow him visit his 'beloved people and his beloved land" once in every year.

Yes. And that is the auspicious day we calle "Thiruvonam" when King Mahabali visits his people and his kingdom.
Don't ask me for more of its history or origin. The only thing real about the festival is that it is still celebrated in style irrespective of the pooor and the rich, irrespective of religion, cast or creed or sex. Irrespective of Global Warming, Tsunami or Golbal Recession.

And the very bad thing about Onam is this: Every tom dick and harry expects a treat of any sort in the name of Onam. One cannot escape such demands by the people of the people and for the people.
In short, Onam is a democratic festival.
Being a democratic country we fail miserably to check the spending spree during the Onam days. Being recession I cannot find a nickel to spned in the name of Onam. Being recession many comapnies are cutting down their staff. Many airlines are grounded.

Many government offices are offering free VRS opportunities.

The citizen is becoming more free without a penny in his pocket. Do my girls understand this situation now? Do my neighbours understand what recession is? Do the marketing men around my town understand this? No way.
They all prepared to act like the God who cheated Mahabali to deprive him of his kingdom.

All are around me to deprive me of my cleberation of Onam, in the name of global recession.

I wish at least i will have to celeberate this Onam with a rice-soup, if not with a sumptuous meal. My Onam is in soup!