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GALLERY: Onam in Manchester

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Manchester Malayalees celebrate Onam at Jain Centre

Manchester Malayalee Association (MMA), probably the biggest Malayalee Association in the North West, successfully celebrated their 13th Onam at Jain Community Centre …writes Anish Kurien

Manchester Malayalees celebrate Onam at Jain Centre
Manchester Malayalees celebrate Onam at Jain Centre

Over 400 members and guests attended the annual mega event of the organisation. The celebrations started with the traditional Onam Sadya (a traditional vegetarian meal which includes over a dozen side dishes, two desserts and rice) which was prepared in-house by the members of the association.

This was followed by a whole evening of colourful dance and music programmes performed by MMA members in front of the huge and colourful flower bed, was indeed a feast for the eyes. The programmes started with the visit from the legendary King Mahabali in his traditional attire who was accompanied by ‘Puli Kali’ (a traditional Lion dance), Chenda Melam (a traditional Kerala drums band) and ‘Vallom Kali’ (a traditional snake boat race). The use of ‘Chakkyar Koothu’ (another traditional satirical performance) to present the programmes was indeed a novel idea and the audience absolutely loved it. Once again, Manchester Malayalee Association proved that when it comes to organising high profile events, they are on a league of their own.

Manchester Malayalees celebrate Onam at Jain Centre
Manchester Malayalees celebrate Onam at Jain Centre

Onam is the biggest and the most important festival of the state of Kerala in India. It is a harvest festival and is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm all over the state by people of all communities. According to a popular legend, the festival is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam every year to visit his subjects. Onam is celebrated in the beginning of the month of Chingam, the first month of Malayalam Calendar (Kollavarsham). This corresponds with the month of August-September according to Gregorian Calendar.

The carnival of Onam lasts for 10 days. First day, Atham and 10th day, Thiruonam are most important of all. Popularity and presentation of rich culture of the state during the carnival made Onam the National Festival of Kerala in 1961. Elaborate feasts, folk songs, elegant dances, energetic games, elephants, boats and flowers all are a part of the dynamic festival called Onam. Government of India actively promotes this vibrant and colorful festival internationally in a big way and celebrates ‘Tourist Week’ in Kerala during Onam celebrations. Thousands of domestic and foreign tourists visit Kerala to be a part of Onam.