It was that time of the year again, with strains of “Onam Vannallo” resounding in the air! The Malayalam phrase, Onam Vannallo, translates to Onam has come. The biggest festival of the state of Kerala, Onam, is the harvest festival celebrated with joy and enthusiasm by Malayali and the worldwide Malayali diaspora. This year, Thiruvonam, and most important day during the Onam festival, was celebrated on 8th September.

An Auspicious Beginning

On 9th September 2022, Onam was celebrated at the CSS HQ and CSLC. On Friday afternoon, the celebrations sparked off at 3.00 pm. It gathered momentum and gaiety and lasted till 5 pm. The festivities b e g a n w i t h Mr. T S Kaladharan, Chairman of CSS Group, lighting the lamp as an auspicious sign to start the Onam festivities this year.

All the women adorned the traditional cream and gold sarees, and the men dressed in coordinated black mundu (dhoti) and floral shirts. The celebrations took off on the “Chenda melam” (drum beats), and several staff members got into the groove by dancing in step with the reverberating beats of the chenda.

The Pookalam or the Floral Carpet

Traditionally, on Thiruvonam day, an elaborate Pookalam or a rangoli with flowers is made from every house in Kerala. The Onam pookalam designs are intricate patterns filled with various colored flowers that are a sight to behold. This year also, there was a Pookalam competition here at CSS. Team members got together to design, assort and lay the pookalam. The Pookalam (flower carpet) competitions saw an explosion of creativity and of the vibrant colors of the flowers.

Onam Games Bring in Unity and Fun

Back in Kerala, families and friends get together during the Onam time and engage in traditional games and activities such as Vallam Kali (boat race), Pulikali, Onathappan, Thumbi Thullal, and Onapottan, to name a few. Taking a cue from this, many competitions were held to mark the celebrations. Some competitions were the lemon and spoon race,uriyadi, and musical chairs. The enthusiasm and vigor with which everyone participated were quite remarkable. Unlike the previous year, many competitions and games added to the jovial spirit. The most anticipated of all competitions was the tug of war. After a fierce battle of muscles, the team from CSS HQ won the match.

The Myth of Mahabali

Mahabali, a mythical king who once ruled Kerala, is believed to visit his people on the day of Onam. No Onam celebration is complete without King Mahabali. Siva Subramanian from the Administration department was the cameo as King Mahabali. His regal presence, dressed in royal garb, added splendor to the Onam celebrations.

The scrumptious Onam sadhya is the main highlight of every Onam celebration. This traditional Kerala meal, essentially vegetarian, served on a banana leaf, has two to three dozen dishes. For the festivities this year, a parcelled “Sadhya” was distributed.

Chandra Kala, Sasi Kala, Krishna Kaladharan, Alan Ramesh, and Unni Krishnan from the Accounts department, and Jayandan & Suresh from CFS were the key coordinators for these celebrations. The planning and organization of the event were impeccable, making it a fun day for all. All the staff enjoyed the fun and celebrations of the Onam festival as it brings people cutting across all differences.

Onam symbolizes the end of the monsoon season and a renewed spring season. This is the second year Onam was celebrated at CSS with traditional fervor, get-togethers, and plenty of merrymaking. The festival marks a communion of everyone irrespective of age, caste, or creed. The spirit of Onam is universal, and may this spirit of unity continue to reign in CSS.