Onam celebrations filled with Kerala ambience

onamFREMONT, CA: Onam is the biggest and the most enchanting festival of the beautiful state of Kerala. It is a harvest festival and is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm all over the state by people of all communities. It is celebrated to welcome the spirit of legendary King Mahabali and the festival helps to bring forth the best of Kerala art and culture.

Maithry – Bay Area Malayalee Community celebrated Onam’13 on August 31 at the Campbell Heritage Theater. The event started at 9 am with breakfast, followed by cultural program, lunch, and ended with the Maithry Social Hour at 6 pm. Malayali families in the United States have moved into Onam celebration gear, creating floral carpets and everything else associated with Onam festivities. Interestingly, members, irrespective of caste or religion, turn the festivities into gala events by their wholehearted participation.

The cultural events started at 10 am with Pushpanjali, followed by kuttipattalam, dhumthanakkadi and Bollywood dance by tiny tots of Maithry. Shingari dance academy performed their cinematic dance number. Shingari’s School of Rhythm (SSR) is among the very best Indian dance schools in the nation, offering classes in the Houston, Dallas and Los Angeles areas.

Manoje Pandalam of Maithry says, “This is our 12th Onam celebration. In 2001, a group of friends gathered in Sunnyvale to celebrate Vishu. This propelled our desire further and inspired them to turn it into reality, through a novel way of social life circle.It has since grown considerably from its humble beginnings and blossomed into a closely-knit family of more than 800 members.”

Shruthi Arshad, a new member of Maithry, says she is thrilled and excited to celebrate Onam same as way back in Kerala. She says Maithry is like her extended family and wishes to support the social work which the organization helps for.

The performance was followed by scrumptious “Onam Sadya”. Onasadhya is the most delicious part of the grand festival. It is considered to be the most elaborate and grand meal prepared by any civilization or cultures in the world. Traditional Onam Sadya meal comprises different varieties of curries, pappadams, chutneys, payasams and prathamans.

The cultural programs resumed after the lunch break and the Maithry kids and adults performed folk, semi-classical, Oppana, Vallamkali from God’s own country. “New Generation”, a comedy skit was presented by Bay Area Kumarettan Theater. It was directed by Anil Nair and had cast of Umesh, Duleep, Satish, Anupama, Anil, Priya, Rajendran and Gopa Kumar. Mohiniyattam by Reshmi Hari transported the audience back to Kerala.

Voice of a Child, Maitry’s community partner was a part of this grand event. Voice of a Child (VOC) is a charity organization incorporated in California, USA. Its mission is to strategically assist indigent people, while fostering social consciousness. The vision of the organization is human dignity through opportunities in education, says Saril.

Pazhassi Raja Tribal School is the project of Voice of a Child located at Wayanad, Kerala. It is a residential school providing food, accommodation, and medical needs as well as full education, completely free of cost to the students. The school that started with 41 students has more than 250 students now.

He said the future of this school is in the hands of each one of us now: $250 – Provides full support to one child for a year. This includes tuition, three healthy meals a day, uniform and books. $100 – Feeds three healthy meals for one day for 100 children. $50 – Vocational training for one child for a year; $25 – Provides support to one child for a month. This includes tuition and three healthy meals a day.

Vidya Sethuraman
India Post News Service

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