A Vibrant Onam Celebration by the Malayalis of Mountain House

By: Adithi Varma & Sharon Varghese

On September 2, 2017, the Malayali Association of Mountain House celebrated Onam, a harvest festival, at Questa Elementary School. The Malayali community collectively showed up to make this program a great success. The entire celebration consisted of many vibrant colorful artistic performances, which culminated in a grand feast with a variety of dishes and sweets such as payasam.

Malayalis are people who originate from the state of Kerala in India. The Malayali community celebrates Onam as one of the most important of many festivals. Malayalis celebrate Onam as the incarnation day of Vaamana, another form of the Hindu god Vishnu and in the belief that the banished king Mahabali visits his subjects during this period every year.

This year marked the 10th year of celebrating Onam as a community, and as each year passes, the number of families who attend continues to increase. What once started off as a gathering of just a few families at a home has expanded into the Onam event attended by over 300 people in a school multi-purpose room.

The Mountain House Onam 2017 preparations had begun in earnest a few months back to the grand event, which lasted from about 3 PM till 10 PM. People wore traditional Onam attire. The program began with a procession made up of program participants along with the King Mahabali and an escort of Chenda (traditional drum) drummers.

After the program performances an Onam Sadhya (feast) was served. The feast consists of vegetarian dishes served traditionally on large plantain leaves. The people eating are seated as others serve them servings that include a variety of different curries and vegetable mixes. After all of the dishes are served, a bowl of payasam, which is a sweet Indian dessert, was served. 2-3 rounds of seating was required to serve all the people who attended.

Overall, the Onam celebration was a great success due to the support from the community and our sponsors. The Malayali community aspires to continue this annual Onam tradition and bring together families for many more years to come.

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