ONAM – The Festival Of India – SPJIMR Mumbai

“Thithi Thara thithi thai thithai thaka thei thei thom”, the Kerala boat race chants that chorused through the auditorium from a crowd of 300, dressed in ethnic Kerala saree and mundu; the thrill that I experienced while facing them was the best amongst the Onam celebrations I had all these years.

Onam is the festival of Kerala- God’s Own Country, which celebrates togetherness and prosperity. It is that time of the year when flowers bloom, farms flourish, families come together, people share and serve food, enjoy the boat race and games; one can’t help, but enjoy and stay happy.

When we recreated the festival for the SPJIMR family, nothing lacked except the boat race. Breaking the regional barriers, everyone enthusiastically bought the traditional Kerala sarees and mundu, they learnt how to wear the mundu and saree, came forward to organise events, participated in dance, songs, games and Thiruvathira (the traditional dance form from Kerala).

 

 

One of my favourite moments during the Onam preparation is when a crowd of 35 people came together to make the flower carpet, the pookalam; the effort, unity and the team spirit kept us motivated till 4 am in the morning and the outcome was an elegant pookalam.

Finally, the day of the much-awaited Onam celebrations arrived, Aug 16th. The celebration reflected “Unity In diversity”; there was no difference in the breadth of the smile on a Keralite and a non-Keralite’s face. It was not just the first year PGDM batch that filled the auditorium, the PGDM senior batch, GMP batch, PGPM batch and professors also graced the occasion. Our professors also went to the extent of bringing in a surprise performance for us by bringing in the instrumental band -Dhuntutu.

But amidst all the preparation and celebration, we were constantly troubled by the situation in Kerala at the back of our minds. Our batchmates came forward and pitched in together for a donation to Kerala Chief Minister Distress Fund. It was a moment of pride and extreme happiness, when in 16 min, 130+ plus donors contributed a sum of around 27000 rupees, making it the best note to end our celebration on.

But wait!!! Onam is incomplete without the Onasadhya, the Onam feast set out on Banana leaf with the menu from traditional Kerala Kitchen, served by the students themselves. When we had the sadhya, so lovingly served by our friends, it brought in the homely warmth and the realisation set in that yes, we are a family now and we all belong to one state – India.

 

Amala Thomas

PGDM Candidate -SPJIMR

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