I had initiated this much before Onam. Somehow I couldn’t post this in the web in time. This is a story in series of two or three parts. Hope you all will spend a little of your valuable time to go through this.
Granny’s earsplitting voice went on “Manju, where were you all this time? Who did you take permission from to go out?”. She never tolerated her dear Manju frittering away the time without any purpose. The grand-offspring curved the lower lip downwards to express a smile.
“Ammoomma(Grandma),don’t you remember that tomorrow is * Atham and we have to collect flowers,” said the girl. “We have gathered a lot of flowers from the hillside pasture and bushes around the paddy field.”
“Oh! *Onam, Ponnonam. What a lovely festival!” murmured the grandmother. Her mind slowly slipped into the past. It travelled to the Onams of her childhood and at that time her mind got immersed absolutely there. ‘And there he stood at the gate of the heaven, where God asked him to recall the sweetest part of his life. He wondered and then realized it was childhood after all.’ No wonder, Karthiyayani amma (the grandmother)was transforming herself to a child.
Joyful conversation and communication of ideas among the friends and siblings illuminated the atmosphere. The chat went on and went on whenever they met(by and large they were together). …………
“Sarojini, Saraswathi, Kochupenne, let’s walk off to the surroundings of the mini-forest and amass flowers from there.”
“I’ll pick these small flowers from here and you all go to the other areas and pick those balsam flowers.”
“ See, the swing is impatiently lurking for us .After completing this work we will be with the swing.”
“Has Gopalan tied the swing on the jack tree? Where did he take the rope from?”
“Yes, a big climber plant bowed before him to offer its stem.”
“First I’ll swing and you push me fast and then you can swing. Let’s do *chilliyattam.
“Can you swing higher and touch that branch?”
“Yes, watch me.”
“Aha! What a fun? It is really exhilarating.”
“Now let’s go home, our peasant workers will bring *Kazhcha now and achchan(father) will give them return gift.”
“Yes, achchan has purchased new attires for them.”
“Achchan also was counting some currency notes which I feel will go to those people.”
“How much will he give them?”
“Don’t know. Money will hide in his hands. It hangs along him obediently.”
“O! Friends, Uncle Time has walked swift. So let us take leave of you.”
“Let us witness what things are going on in our houses also.”
“We should get up at very early dawn itself to arrange*Pookkalam. Don’t wait for Mother Nature to switch on her large bright light for our rouse.”
“ Life without our toys and games is dry and monotonous. This time we will play with our play things also. Have you prepared toys of our choice?.”
“Why not? Various leaves ,paper , plant-parts, sand, soil, stones, shells etc. have taken new incarnations and dressed up as fine toys in our proficient hands.”
“Oh! Days have flown like dry leaves .Today is *Uthradam.. Friends, all of you come here, listen*Pulikali Band is nearing our house. Let’s watch and enjoy the fun. The hunter will shoot the tiger now.”
“Lighting earthen lamps on the stem of banana-tree at the entrance of our domicile at dusk lies with me. I’ll arrange it beautifully to add colour to this festival. Achchan has made ready the ‘bow and arrow’ to be kept near the lighted sacred lamp. Oil in the lamp is sufficient enough for the whole night. Tonight I’ll not sleep to observe how*Maveli shoots the arrow. Oh! My sleep cheated me as usual.”
“Aha! Ha! Today is our Onam!Ponnonam! I have defeated even the sun in waking up. First I only will have the dip in the pool so that I can put on my new apparel. In the morning amma will serve us only rice flakes and plantains. Festival without our feast is seldom festive. Oh! The time is not passing. The thought of feast makes our mouths water. It will be sumptuous indeed. All sorts of vegetable curries, fried pappads, chips , pudding etc. will be really relishing. Then the rice falls in the middle of each leaf.”
“Amma has arranged every item of the delicious feast for ‘Maveli’. We are not allowed to go and watch Him during the meal-time.
“The smell says that relishing dish items have taken their positions on the plantain-leaves. Let’s be seated so that the rice can make its appearance.”
“Come on let’s perform* thiruvathira and enjoy the amusements of all the games- *pashuvum-puliyum, juggling, games with playthings etc.
Then we will carry out * thumpithullal in everybody’s house and clear of the flowers arranged for pookkalam. Yes , we have accomplished the work of removing the pookkalam of all the houses.
O! Ponnonam is gone. Another one year it will take for Maveli to visit again.”
“Ammoomma, are you sleeping ? What are you dreaming about?” The grand-daughter asked.
“ What ! What is it ? O! Dear I fell into a nap,” said the granny with a shade of shyness on the cheek.”
“ Did you have a dream, ammoomma?” Manju asked humorously.
“ Yes a flight took me off to our golden olden days of Onam . Now I have landed right into my present,” replied ammoomma.
*Onam is an exceptionally important festival of
The words with asterisks denote days, rituals, games, procedures etc. linked
with Onam celebrations. Kerala, India
Aththam-the first day of Onam(The celebration remains for ten-days or more.)
Chilliyattam-swinging by standing.
Pulikali Band-A team of children, a few of whom dress up as tigers and another few as hunters
move about from house to house and display their talent.
Utradam-the ninth day.
Maveli –A mythical king after whom this festival occurs.
Pashuvum-puliyum- a game in which children engage in recreation as cow and tiger.
Thiruvatira-a legendary folk-dance of Kerala..
( to be contd.)