Onam

Date took place: September 3, 2011

My dad woke up early and woke everybody up to eat and get dressed before 8:30. We needed to arrive at the park by 9:00 a.m.  We could not be late! As my mother and I expected,  not even the main sponsor reached there before us. The event as every other event follows Indian Standard Time. Nothing ever starts on time and is late at the very least by an hour. Our church was celebrating Onam and my father was going to drum in the procession.
Onam is a traditional 10 day holiday celebrated in Kerala, India. It is a harvest festival and follows a myth of the King Mahabali. I am not too familiar with the customs and legend but only know from the glimpses I see and the words I can translate from my parents. In America, we only celebrate it for one day depending on who is organizing the event.
At every celebration, they start with the laying of the pookalam (flowers) in a circular design. This time, they didn’t use real flowers but shredded coconut.

Start of the day

 

Everybody was getting ready for the procession. All the girls wore traditional Kerala dress which is a cream color.   And most of the men wore lungis with matching shirts as a uniform for those that drummed in the procession.
Girl's Dress  Dress

My father was extremely excited and had been practicing at home. The drums were all brought from India by one of the church members. And the constant beating not only set the mood but managed to ensnare a young boy. He walked as close as he possibly could to feel every vibration.
Drumming

Entranced

We also had someone dress up as the king to be a part of the procession. This version is quite tame compared to past ones. Exaggerating the mustache is a must!
King Mahabali

We all gathered on benches and waited for the entertainment to start. Now, any event cannot be officially started until the oil lamp is lit. Afterwards, there were songs sung and dances danced. This kid was sitting next to me and certainly had a lot to say.
     Stare

 

There were dances and songs to delight the audience with a traditional meal in between. The food was served in a traditional style with a fake palm leaf and men running around serving each portion from larger bowls.

The performers radiated joy with each act. These kids had a parent miming the movements to remind them. The unsynchronized movements took second place to the cuteness they brought while hopping about.

All the kids have been walking past the pookalum and smearing the design. But the best part is often the destruction when it all comes down. Overall, it was worth it to see my dad so happy.
End of the Day

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