Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Onam Festival in colours

 

 

Love Is Life

Play the moments. ▌▌ Pause the memories. Stop the pain. ◄◄ Rewind the happiness

 

LIVE while you are alive ...!!!

 

 Happy Onam to You  J J

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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Ende Hridayam niranja Onashamsakal

Love Is Life

Play the moments. ▌▌ Pause the memories. Stop the pain. ◄◄ Rewind the happiness

 

LIVE while you are alive ...!!!

 

 

' When Maveli, our King, rules the land,
All the peoples form one casteless race.
And people live joyful and merry;
They are free from all harm.
There is neither theft nor deceit,
And no one is false in speech either.
Measures and weights are right;
No one cheats or wrongs the neighbor.
when Maveli, our King, rules the land,
All the peoples form one casteless race.'

 

 

 

What is Onam?

Onam is the biggest and the most important festival of the state of Kerala. It is a harvest festival and is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm all over the state by people of all communities. According to a popular legend, the festival is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam.

Onam is celebrated in the beginning of the month of Chingam, the first month of Malayalam Calendar (Kollavarsham). This corresponds with the month of August-September according to Gregorian Calendar.

Carnival of Onam lasts from four to ten days. First day, Atham and tenth day, Thiruonam are most important of all. Popularity and presentation of rich culture of the state during the carnival made Onam the National Festival of Kerala in 1961. Elaborate feasts, folk songs, elegant dances, energetic games, elephants, boats and flowers all are a part of the dynamic festival called Onam.

Government of India has taken due notice of this vibrant and colorful festival. It promotes Onam internationally in a big way and celebrates 'Tourist Week' for Kerala during Onam celebrations. Thousands of domestic and foreign tourists visit Kerala to be a part of Onam.

The Legend
Story goes that during the reign of mighty asura (demon) king, Mahabali, Kerala witnessed its golden era. Every body in the state was happy and prosperous and king was highly regarded by his subjects. Apart from all his virtues, Mahabali had one shortcoming. He was egoistic. This weakness in Mahabali's character was utilized by Gods to bring an end to his reign as they felt challenged by Mahabali's growing popularity. However, for all the good deed done by Mahabali, God granted him a boon that he could annually visit his people with whom he was so attached.

It is this visit of Mahabali that is celebrated as Onam every year. People make all efforts to celebrate the festival in a grand way and impress upon their dear King that they are happy and wish him well.

Onam Celebrations
Rich cultural heritage of Kerala comes out in its best form and spirit during the ten day long festival. It is indeed a treat to be a part of the grand carnival. People of Kerala make elaborate preparations to celebrate it in the best possible manner.

The most impressive part of Onam celebration is the grand feast called Onasadya, prepared on Thiruonam. It is a nine course meal consisting of 11 to 13 essential dishes. Onasadya is served on banana leaves and people sit on a mat laid on the floor to have the meal.

Another enchanting feature of Onam is Vallamkali, the Snake Boat Race, held on the river Pampa. It is a colourful sight to watch the decorated boat oared by hundreds of boatmen amidst chanting of songs and cheering by spectators.

There is also a tradition to play games, collectively called Onakalikal, on Onam. Men go in for rigorous sports like Talappanthukali (played with ball), Ambeyyal (Archery), Kutukutu and combats called Kayyankali and Attakalam. Women indulge in cultural activities. They make intricately designed flower mats called, Pookalam in the front courtyard of house to welcome King Mahabali. Kaikotti kali and Thumbi Thullal are two graceful dances performed by women on Onam. Folk performances like Kummatti kali and Pulikali add to the zest of celebrations

 

Onasadya

Onasadhya is the most delicious part of the grand festival called Onam. It is considered to be the most elaborate and grand meal prepared by any civilisation or cultures in the world. It's a feast which if enjoyed once is relished for years.

Onasadhya is prepared on the last day of Onam, called Thiruonam. People of Kerala wish to depict that they are happy and prosperous to their dear King Mahabali whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam.

Legend goes that Mahabali who was so attached to his people that he requested Gods to allow him to visit Kerala every year. People of Kerala wish to convey that they are enjoying the same age of prosperity as was witnessed during the reign of King Mahabali by preparing a grand Onasadhya.

Rich and the poor, everybody prepares Onasadya in a grand fashion as people of Kerala are extremely devotional and passionate when it comes to Onasadya. So much so that, it has lead to saying, 'Kaanam Vittum Onam Unnanam'. Meaning - men go to the extend of selling all their possessions for one Onam Sathya.

The Meals
Rice is the essential ingredient of this Nine Course Strictly Vegetarian Meals. All together there are 11 essential dishes which have to prepared for Onasadya. Number of dishes may at times also go upto 13. Onasadya is so elaborate a meal that it is called meals, even though it is consumed in one sitting. Onasadya is consumed with hands, there is no concept of spoon or forks here.

Traditional Onam Sadya meal comprises of different varieties of curries, upperies - thigs fried in oil, pappadams which are round crisp flour paste cakes of peculiar make, uppilittathu - pickles of various kinds, chammanthi - the chutney, payasams and prathamans or puddings of various descriptions. Fruits and digestives are also part of the meal.

The food has to be served on a tender Banana leaf, laid with the end to the left. The meal is traditionally served on a mat laid on the floor. A strict order of serving the dishes one after the another is obeyed. Besides, there are clear directions as to what will be served in which part of the banana leaf.

These days Onadaya has toned down a little due to the urban and hectic living style. Earlier, Onasaya used to be even more elaborate. There were about 64 mandatory dishes - eight varieties each of the eight dishes. At that time three banana leaves were served one under the other to accommodate all the dishes. How exactly they were accommodated in the tummy..is a food for thought!

How is it Served
There is a distinct order of serving the the grand feast of Onam. Pappad or Pappadum is to be served on the extreme left. On top of the big pappadum banana is served. The banana can be 'Rasakadali', 'Poovan', 'Palayankodan'. From the right pappad - salt, banana wafers, sarkarapuratti fries are served. After this, ginger lime and mango pickles are served. Next comes 'vellarika', 'pavakka', beetroot and 'ullikitchadi'. 'Kitchadi' made of pineapple and banana splits or of grapes and apple is served along with this. On the right, 'cabbage thoran' is served. Then comes a thoran made of beans and avil followed by bread and green peas mix 'thoran'. The meal will be complete with the 'avial' and 'kootu curry'.

Rice is served when the guests seat themselves and just two big spoons is considered enough. After this 'parippu' and ghee is poured. Then comes Sambhar. Desserts are to begin with adaprathaman followed by 'Kadala Payasam'. This colourful arrangement on the lush green banana leaf makes the food look even more tempting and irresistible .

Hold on...Be a little patient....you need to wait a little before you start gorging the lip smacking meal. There are some rituals which need to be followed. First full course meal is served for Lord Ganapathi in front of a lighted oil lamp (Nila Vilakku). This is in accordance with the Malayalese trend of starting everything in the name and presence of God.

More About the Meal
For a better understanding of the Onasadhya meal let us now go through all the dishes in a little more detail. If that temps you too much, take a look at the recipes section and enjoy your Onam whenever you want.

Erissery
This is either prepared from pumpkins/red beans or from yam and raw bananas cubes. The spices used in this include split green chillies, ground coconut, cumin seeds, turmeric and red chillies. Erissery is seasoned with mustard seeds spluttered in oil. This is a main stay for the occasion, though not very popular these days.

Kalan or Pulisseri
This is prepared from buttermilk. Ingredients consist of sliced plantains called nenthra-kaya and yams or chena. These are boiled in water with salt and chillies. It is flavoured with ground coconut and mustard seeds spluttered in oil. Some even add cucumber cubes to Kalan.

Olan
Olan is prepared from sliced cucumber and brinjal. Sometimes pulse is also added. They are boiled in water with salt and no chillies. When properly boiled, some fresh coconut oil is poured. The dish is seasoned with flavour kariveppila (curry leaves).

Aviyal
This is kind of a mixed vegetable as all sorts of available vegetables are added to it. All vegetables are first boiled in water with salt and chillies. Tamarind and well ground pulp are added at proper time. Aviyal is flavoured with coconut oil and Kariveppila.

Thoran
Thoran is prepared by slicing beetroot and several other vegetables into very small pieces. These are then boiled in water with some salt and chillies till all the water dries up. Water can also be strained away. For seasoning, ground coconut pulp and mustard fried in coconut oil is used.

Mulakoshyam
This resembles olan. It is a special Onam delicacy from the state of Kerala and has been recently added to Onam Sadhya.

Koottukari
This is a curry consisting of a variety of vegetables and some Bengal gram. It differs from Aviyal as it does not contain tamarind.

Sambar
This is an extremely popular recipe from South India and relished by the whole of India. It consists of dal and a variety of vegetables like brinjal, drum-sticks, pavakkai (bitter gourd), etc. All vegetables are first boiled in water with salt and chilies. Tamarind is also added to enhance the taste. Other spices like coriander, cumin seed etc. are fried in oil and powdered. Sambhar is flavoured with mustard seeds and asafoetida.

Pachchati, Kichchati

These are types of curry consisting chiefly of cucumber, mustard and sour butter milk or curds. In Kichchatim, young and tender cucumber is added

Rasam
This lip smacking recipe is prepared from tomatoes treated with tamarind juice. It is seasoned with bay leaves and mustard seeds spluttered in oil. Some people take rasam with rice. Rasam also helps in digestion.

Payasam
This is an extremely delicious dish and is a sort of pudding. It is prepared from boiled potatoes mixed with molasses and coconut milk. The mixture is flavoured with spices. There is another type of payasam called 'Pal Payasam' in which rice is boiled with milk and sweetened with sugar.

Prathaman
There is a whole variety of Prathamans such as ata, pazham, parippu and palata prathamans.

Beverages
A special drink is prepared for Onam in which water is boiled with a combination of cumin and dried ginger (chukku). This is beneficial from health point of view.

Upperi or Chips
Upperi is prepared from various things like raw bananas (kaaya), yam (chena), jack fruit (chakka), bitter gourd (pavayka) and egg plant fruit (vazhuthanga). Slices of the ingredient are fried in coconut oil to a crisp condition.

Pickles (Achaar)
These are prepared well in advance of Onasadhya. Pickles are chiefly made from mango, lemon, ginger, chillies and curry naranga.

Pappads (Pappadam)
These are prepared from black grams and are fried in oil. Pappadams are usually served in three sizes - small, medium and large.

Fruits
Chiefly plantain fruits of various kinds are served along with other articles of food at meals.

 

 

Pookalam

Pookalam is an intricate and colourful arrangement of flowers laid on the floor. Tradition of decorating Pookalam is extremely popular in Kerala and is followed as a ritual in every household during ten-day-long Onam celebrations.

'Pookhalam' consists of two words, 'poov' meaning flower and 'kalam' means colour sketches on the ground. It is considered auspicious to prepare Pookalam, also known as 'Aththa-Poo' during the festival of Onam.

People believe the spirit of their dear King Mahabali visits Kerala at the time of Onam. Besides making several other arrangements, people, especially adolescent girls prepare elaborate Pookalams to welcome their most loved King.

Making of a Pookalam
Kilo and kilos of flowers, lot of dedication, creativity, technique and team effort are the basic essential of an eye catching Pookkalam.

Athapoovu are usually circular in shape and multi-tiered colourful arrangements of flowers, petals and leaves. Use of powder colours, desiccated coconut or artificial flowers is prohibited. Pookalams are normally laid on the front court yard of the house. Idols of Mahabali and Vishnu are placed in the center of the Pookalam and worshiped. Diameter of a Pookalam normally ranges from four to five meters.

Ritual of making the flower mats continues for all ten days of Onam. Designing starts from the day of Atham and is made ready by Thiruvonam day. Basic design is prepared on the first day. Size of a Pookalam is increased by adding more to it on every passing day hence a massive Pookalam gets ready for the main day of the occasion. Its a big creative task, as designers have to think of a new design ever day.

Various flowers are used on each day as a specific flower is dedicated to each day of Onam. Commonly used flowers include Thumba (Lucas Aspera), Kakka Poovu, Thechipoovu, Mukkutti (little tree plant), Chemparathy (shoe flower), Aripoo or Konginipoo (Lantana), Hanuman Kireedom (Red pagoda plant) and Chethi (Ixora). Of all these flowers, Thumba flowers are given more importance in Pookalam as they are small in size and glitter in the the soft rays of the sun. 'Thumba Poo' is also considered to be the favourite flower of Lord Shiva and King Mahabali was a devout worshipper of Shiva.

On the next day of Onam, Thumba flowers are used to decorate Onapookalam. The arrangement is not touched for the next 15 days. On the 15 th day, called 'Ayilyam', Pookalam is decorated again. On the next day, called Magam, Pookalam is given a cut in its four corners with a knife. This marks the end of Pookalam decorations for the year. Some also follow the tradition of erecting a small pandal over the completed flower carpet and decorating it with colourful festoons.

Making of Pookalam is itself a colourful and joyous event. Being a team effort it helps to generate feeling of togetherness and goodwill amongst the people. It is animating to watch women as they prepare Pookalam while singing traditional songs. Giggling and sharing jokes between the thought provoking and back breaking job.

Trends
Earlier, people used to make efforts to collect flowers for designing a Pookalam. Children used to get up early in the morning and gather flowers in their small 'Pookuda' (basket) from the village gardens. These days, the trend has changed and people have the option of buying flowers from the market in the shape and colour of their choice.

Pookalam decoration competitions are organised by various societies and groups all over the state on the day of Onam. They have become extremely popular and witness huge public participations. Big prizes are also kept in these contests as they have turned up to be extremely competitive events. A large number of people assemble just to have a look at the innovative and meticulously prepared art pieces.

A beautiful design, though it is said, is created in the heart, use of technology is also in vogue in designing of a Pookalam. People prepare design first on computer and then implement it on floor. This saves a lot of time and energy and helps the designers to come up with stunning Pookalams.

Vallamkali Boat Race

Vallamkali or the Snake Boat Race is the most enchanting facet of the festival of Onam. The event is promoted as a major tourist attraction of the state of Kerala and draws a large number of domestic and international tourists. Vallamkali has been going on for good number of years and its popularity is soaring with each passing year. Much credit for the success of Snake Boat Race can be attributed to Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru who was so enamoured by this colourful event that he instituted a trophy for the race.

The Legend
There is also an interesting legend behind this very electrifying event. The story goes that once about 10 kilometers up the river Pamba from Aranmulla, the head of the Katoor Mana, a Nambudiri family, offered his daily prayers and was waiting to feed a poor man to complete the ritual. After waiting for long, Brahmin closed his eyes and started praying to Lord Krishna. As soon as he opened his eyes, he saw a ragged boy standing before him. The Brahmin lovingly gave a bath to the boy, a new set of clothes and also a sumptuous meal.

To the utter surprise of the Brahmin, the boy vanished after having the meal. He searched for the boy and spotted him at the Aranmulla Temple but the boy disappeared again. Namboodari concluded that it was no ordinary boy, but God himself. To commemorate the event, he began to bring food to the Aranmulla temple every year during the time of Onam. And, to protect the food from the river pirates, Kovilans or snake boats used to accompany the entourage.

As the tradition gained popularity, the number of snake boats increased leading to the custom of a grand carnival called Snake Boat Race.

About the Boat
Vallamkali boat are no ordinary boats and there are fixed measurements to it. It is about 100 feet long and has a seating capacity of 150 men. The boats are usually made of anjili (Artocarpus hirsuta), though sometimes teak and kadamb (Naucleacadamba) wood is also used. The curled ends of the boats are shaped like cobra hoods and it is from this shape that boat has derived its name. Each boat is meticulously crafted by skilled craftsmen and a lot of patience and hard work goes into making and decorating it. The boat is treated as a deity and a holds a lot of emotional value for the village folk. Only men are allowed to touch the boat that too with bare feet. Each boat belong to individual villages located near the river Pamba.

Vallamkalis are tastefully decorated with green and scarlet silk umbrellas. The number of umbrellas attached to a boat holds significance as it signifies the affluence of the family to which they belong. To render a more maginificient look to the boat gold coins, ornaments and tassels are also added.

Great care is also taken for the upkeep of the boat. A carpenter repairs the boat on an annual basis. The boats are lubricated with fish oil, coconut shell and carbon mixed with eggs. This also helps to keep the wood strong and boats slippery in water. This way one can always find a boat ready for a swim.

Prior Arrangements
To make sure that everything goes smooth, arrangements start days before the event. The boats are launched a day before the grand racce. Pujas are also rendered to Lord Vishnu and Mahabali by a priest to invoke blessings for the boat and the boatmen. Flowers offered to the God are also placed at the helm of the boat as a good luck charm.

The Boat Race
To watch the grand gala race, thousands of people assemble on the banks of the river Pamba at Aranmulla where a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna and Arjuna is located. About 30 elaborately crafted Chundan Vallams or snake boats participate in the mega event.

The boat race is conducted on a stretch of 40 kilometers from the hills to the low lying plains on the fifth day of Onam. The sight becomes endearing when one looks at the beautifully decorated boats being rowed by oarsmen dressed in white dhotis and turbans. Traditional songs Vanchipattu, sung on the rhythm produced by splashing of boats furthers adds to the overall excitement of the team event.

Each boat comprises of 150 men of which four are helsmen, 25 men are singers and 125 are the actual oarsmen.

The most remarkable feature of the Snake Boat Race is the depiction of the great team spirit. It also displays the importance of being united and to be in harmony with nature. A single mistake by one person can produce imbalance and could lead to the overturning of the boat.

These day even women participate with lot of enthusiasm in the event and a separate race is conducted for them.

Another Legend Associated with the Race
Another tradition of the Onam is that all through the festival days to the eve of Thiru Onam, a boat laden with food, called Palliodam sails from Katoormana. This tradition owes its origin to a legend when a food laden boat got stuck in a turn of river. It could be maneuvered further only when a famished family living in a hut on the banks of the river was well fed with the food in the boat.

This is related to the Snake Boat Race as the winning boat gets the privilege to accompany Palliodam. The sight is wonderful to look at as the boats are lit with lamps and could be spotted from far. The colorful boat festival is held on the fifth day after Thiru Onam.

Mersmerised Nehru
A lot of credit for the popularity of the Snake Boat Race can be attributed to the first Prime Minister of the country, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. He was so enchanted by the spirit of the this traditional team event that he decided to promote it in a big way.

He instituted a trophy for the event, which came to be called Nehru Trophy Boat Race. This is an immensely popular event held on the Punnamada Backwaters of Alappuzha district on the second Saturday in the month of August. Started in the year 1952, in an impromptu fashion in honor of the late Prime Minister, Nehru Trophy Boat Race is the biggest team sport event in the world today. A spectacular boat pageantry held before the actual race is the other highlight of the event.
These days several other boat races are also conducted in the various rivers of Kerala and draw massive public attention.

 

Elephant Procession

The spectrum of Onam gets its shade of royalty with the regal elephant ride that takes place at Thrissur, the cultural capital of Kerala. Decked in gold, the favourite animal of royals of India looks even more magnificent. And, we have not just one but a whole lot of them.

The Dazzling Attire
Intricate designs are made on big golden plates made for the elephant's forehead. These are big enough and continue till trunk. A lot of craftsmanship goes into making innovative and exquisite designs each year. Another striking element of the elephant's decorative is the parasol. These are long stemmed ceremonial silk and satin umbrellas laced with white metal and placed on top of the animal. A silk robe, some jewelery and body painting adds to the looks. Only the most impressive and good looking animal gets the honor of being a part of the procession and wearing the ornate caparison.

The Royal Show
The spectacular procession of pachyderms is one of the major highlights of Onam and attracts thousands of enthusiastic people. Majestic as it is, the elephants look even more handsome with the ornate caparison that it gets on this day. A darling of children, pachyderm amuses its audience by garlanding some, staring others and shaking its trunk and the big body a little along with the rhythm. The crowd goes mad with laughter with these cute little pranks of the king-sized animal. The event is inclusive of feasting, dance, music and merrymaking.

 

 

Regards,

Saravanan

 

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Atlast a site to see ur Missed School Photographs..!

Love Is Life

Play the moments. ▌▌ Pause the memories. Stop the pain. ◄◄ Rewind the happiness

 

LIVE while you are alive ...!!!

 

 

 

Hi

 

SCHOOL PHOTOGRAPHS

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"Spread smiles...over the miles u go" 

 

This e-mail and any files transmitted with it are for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient(s), please reply to the sender and destroy all copies of the original message. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure, dissemination, forwarding, printing or copying of this email, and/or any action taken in reliance on the contents of this e-mail is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful.