Onam Special: Living the tradition in Dubai
Achu - daughter of former Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy - her husband Leejo and daughters Angela and Christine. Photo by Juidin Bernarrd
Dubai - Daughter of former Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy, Achu reminisces the days when she would accompany her father to his ancestral home and his constituency in Puthupally, Kottayam, on Thiruvonam day
Onam is the most vibrant and colourful festival of Keralites and I have beautiful memories of it, says Dubai-resident Achu.
"In Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, Onam is celebrated in a big way, and having spent my childhood days there, I have very fond memories of the festival. During this time of the year, the streets would be lit up with fancy, colourful lights, and exhibitions held across the city. Large, colourful theme-based processions or floats are a big attraction during the 10 days of Onam."
Daughter of former Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy, Achu reminisces the days when she would accompany her father to his ancestral home and his constituency in Puthupally, Kottayam, on Thiruvonam day, which is the tenth and most important day of Onam. There, they would be treated to a lavish breakfast and later join the extended family for the sumptuous 21-dish sadhya together.
"Another exciting part of Onam was visiting my mother's hometown in Alleppy during Onam. The famous Nehru Trophy Snake Boat race was the main attraction. We would wait at the finishing point of the race and cheer for the winners."
In Dubai for the last 11 years, Achu has not let go of her family tradition of celebrating Onam in a colourful and vibrant way. "We still celebrate this festival with great vigour here in Dubai, thanks to the flourishing Malayalee community. There are so many Kerala associations in the UAE and every weekend throughout September, we are invited to some or the other Onam gathering. We also have a group of cousins who get together, keeping the family and the state's tradition alive.
Achu and her husband, Leejo, ensure that they follow the traditions to the hilt, and also gift the onakodi (new clothes) to their two little girls, Angela and Christine. Pookkalams are laid out with the help of the children and relatives, she said.
"On Thiruvonam day, we prepare the sadhya and eat together as a family with our relatives," said Achu. "The children have to be familiar with our culture and traditions," she added.