Pune: The festival of Onam will be celebrated across the city on Monday by the Pravasi Malayalees (Non-resident Keralites) residing in Pune.
“While we start Onam celebrations a couple of days ahead of the festival, the main celebrations will be held on Monday. We try to make the celebrations similar to the way we celebrated in Kerala when we were young. We wear new clothes, make flower decorations at our houses and make 40 different types of curries,” Velayudhan P, Chief Coordinator of the Programme at Vakdevatha, Pune-based Malayalees cultural centre, said.
Remembering his fond childhood memories, Velayudhan added, “When we were young, in Kerala, we would go out to the river or pond near us, enjoy a good swim, then go to paddy fields to collect flowers for the decorations. There would be boat races. Back home, everybody would dress up in new traditional clothes, and the elders would give gifts to the children. Although we cannot do all this here, we try to celebrate with family and friends.”
Velayudhan pointed out that this year, as Ganesh Festival and Onam have come together, the rates of flowers and banana leaves, that are the most essential, have sky rocketed.
Ravindran P, a non-resident Keralite, who works as an HR personnel for a renowned construction firm in Pune, said that he thinks Pravasi Malayalees, in fact, celebrate Onam better than their counterparts in Kerala.
“I have been in Maharashtra for the past 40 years, out of which for around 25 to 30 years, I have been residing in Pune. Here, our Onam celebrations could last for as long as two months. There are around 4 to 5 lakh Malayalees living in Pune and suburbs and there are around 40 organisations for us in and around the city. These bring the community together for Onam. We have much better cultural activities here, and the feast of ethnic food that we have here is to die for,” Ravindran said.
Speaking on how the Onam celebrations change for Pravasi Malayalees, Velayudhan said, “We do have certain limitations as far as Onam celebrations outside Kerala are concerned.
Although we have many Malayalee outlets, it is still difficult to get certain stuff like the particular kind of flowers that we use in Kerala for decorations. Instead, we use the flowers locally available here. Also, we don't have a public holiday for Onam here, as opposed to Kerala, which makes it difficult for us to manage things. However, I am very happy celebrating the festival here, as Puneites are well-aware of the festival, and they enthusiastically participate in the festivities along with us.”