Every year during Onam, people in Kerala pull out all the stops to welcome back the mythical king, Mahabali, whose reign marked a period of peace and prosperity in the southern Indian state. Regardless of creed and community, Malayalis come together to celebrate the festival - which also marks the harvest season - in traditional splendour. Festivities evoke the spirit of oneness that prevailed during Mahabali’s reign. People adorn their courtyards with traditional floral arrangements called pookalam to greet the king. Traditional art forms and games take centre stage. Ten days of fun and revelry reach their peak on Thiruvonam, which will be celebrated tomorrow, with family and friends gathering together for an onasadhya, a sumptuous vegetarian meal served in courses.
With Malayalis making up the majority of Indian expatriates in the UAE, Onam is celebrated with equal fervour here too. GN Focus caught up with leading Malayli businessmen in the UAE to know more about their Onam experiences here and back home
Dr Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman & Managing Director, Aster DM Healthcare
Onam is a moment of nostalgia filled with pleasant memories from my childhood in my village. Going around with friends in search of flowers to make pookalam, the traditional floral arrangement on the floor, is one of the best memories that I have from then. I really miss the lush green surroundings, full of blossoms, which is the ideal backdrop for traditional Onam celebrations.
Going around with friends in search of flowers to make pookalam, the traditional floral arrangement on the floor, is one of the best memories that I have from then.
Onam fosters the harmony and secular traits of Malayalis. In the UAE, I exchange Onam greetings with friends from Kerala.
Joy Alukkas, Chairman and Managing Director of Joyalukkas Group
Onam is one of the most secular festivals and is celebrated with a lot of pomp and fervour across Kerala. Everyone celebrates it irrespective of religion or caste with equal enthusiasm. That's what I love about Onam, and of course I look forward to the coming together of family and creating moments to treasure.
Everyone celebrates it irrespective of religion or caste with equal enthusiasm. That's what I love about Onam, and of course I look forward to the coming together of family and creating moments to treasure.
Onam falls on the first month of the Malayalam calendar, which marks the beginning of the harvest season. Ten days are celebrated in full swing with many cultural competitions such as dance, music, especially chenda vadhyam, the traditional drums, theatre and pookalam. The event I look forward to the most is the boat race. The zeal, enthusiasm and rhythm in which each team rows the boat is a beautiful symphony to watch.
Since I celebrate Onam with my family in the UAE, we usually get together with family and friends. We try to organise short performances from the little ones in the family if possible and indulge in the sumptuous traditional lunch, the onasadhya.
I miss the 10 days of festivities in Kerala. It's just one big celebration. I hardly get to spend Onam in Kerala due to work commitments but whenever I can, I make sure I celebrate it with my whole family and I treasure my time with my entire family, relatives and friends.
Sakeer Hussain, Chairman and Managing Director of Gulf Gate
My family and I celebrate Onam with close friends. Every year, we are invited to celebrate the joyous occasion by sharing the traditional onasadhya. Onam is the festival that binds all Malayalis across the globe together. It is a time for celebrating and cherishing our rich culture.
Onam is the festival that binds all Malayalis across the globe together. It is a time for celebrating and cherishing our rich culture.
The festival is a great occasion to strengthen relationships and bring everyone together. Every year we at Gulf Gate Group hold Onam celebrations throughout all our GCC and Indian branches.
The best memories of Onam that comes to mind is enjoying the various traditional programmes including the pulikali and watching the boat races.
I miss the unique nostalgic moments of celebrating Onam in the homeland.