Abu Dhabi: Expatriates from south Indian state of Kerala, who celebrated their most important harvest festival, Onam, on Monday, said they missed the colourful celebrations back home.
“We do miss colourful celebrations with a lot of activities back home. But at the same time this occasion reminds us the advantages of life in the UAE,” Dr Gopa Kumar, Chief Operating Officer of Al Juraf Fisheries LLC in Abu Dhabi, said.
He celebrated Thiruvonam, the most important day of Onam, with his family in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
His wife and mother-in-law woke up early on Monday to prepare Onam Sadya (Onam feast) for the family including his two school-going children.
“Being a working day, we prepared the Onam Sadya before leaving for work and came back afternoon to enjoy the feast together,” Kumar said.
He missed the colourful Pookkalam (floral carpet), which he used to create with flowers collected from neighbourhoods with family members and friends. But he couldn’t show his children how to make one here.
“Even the banana leaves [on which feast is served] we bought from the market were not fresh but expensive. It is difficult to get fresh flowers and I did not see any floral carpets inside apartments in Abu Dhabi,” Kumar said.
“I do miss the colourful procession on Thiruvananthapuram, my hometown on Thirivonam.”
It is a loss! But he says it is the price he is giving for enjoying a quality life in the UAE.
“Considering the quality of life here, I would like to continue here,” Kumar said.
Echoing the same view, Gopala Krishnan, 42, a Public Relations Officer with a private company, said, he tries to involve in all activities related to Onam in the UAE to beat the nostalgia. “I do feel nostalgic because I miss the fun in participating in the tug-of-war competition in the village back home on Thiruvonam.
He said he also feels fortunate that quality of life has improved thanks to the life in the UAE, though he misses several other fortunes back home.
“And fortunately I am looking forward to several other colourful activities to be organised by community organisations in the capital from next weekend,” Krishnan said.
He joined a friend’s family living on Hamdan Street in the capital yesterday for Thiruvonam celebrations, as his own family is living back home. His family joins him here once a year during his children’s school vacation back home. He missed his family but he was happy that he could celebrate Onam in a family environment.
“There were 14 people including that friend’s family members and other bachelor friends. We all joined in preparing Onam Sadya, which itself is a great enjoyment,” Krishnan said.
Although it was a working day yesterday, he took a short-break from work to enjoy the feast.
Many private companies in the capital with a large number of Keralite employees felicitated the celebrations at their offices. They created floral carpets at office and enjoyed take-away Onam Sadya from restaurants. Others will be joining Onam Feast to be hosted by community organisations during the weekends. As Gulf News reported yesterday reception halls in the premises of registered Indian community organisations in the capital have already been booked for every weekend until the end of December for hosting Onam Sadya.