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Onam celebrated with fervour, nostalgia across the world

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Malayalis across the world on Sunday celebrated Onam, the national festival of Kerala, with traditional fervour and gaiety. Despite light rain in some parts of the state, the festival was celebrated with a lavish, 26-dish traditional vegetarian lunch, flowers and a degree of nostalgia.

In the state, people offered prayers in temples early in the morning while the day was marked by feast and festivities, including cultural programmes organised by various institutions. Heavy rush was witnessed at major temples, including the famous hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala, Sree Krishna Temple at Guruvayur and Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple here.

Onam is celebrated to honour King Mahabali, who according to legend ruled the state once, under whom the people were equal, prosperous and happy.

People believe that it was on this particular day of Thiruvonam in the Malayalam calendar month of Chingam when Lord Mahavishnu took his fifth avatar as Vaamana, appeared in the kingdom of King Mahabali and sent him to the netherworld.

According to legend, on Thiruvonam day the spirit of King Mahabali visits the people of Kerala. Onam is celebrated by Malayalis of all religions, castes and creeds, cutting across the financial standing of the families.

Flower mats (Pookalam) were laid in houses and family members enjoyed the grand feast (Onasadya). A week-long cultural extravagance organised by the state tourism department as part of Onam festival is underway in several places since September 5.

On the occasion of Thiruvonam on Sunday, the most important day in the 10-day long Onam calendar, people were in a festive mood, while a few recalled age-old customs associated with the event.

Soaring prices of essential commodities did not dampen the spirit of the people who thronged markets till last night to buy their favourite items for Onam celebrations. High price of vegetables, the main ingredient for the feast, literally put the households in tight spot.

In central districts of Kerala, every festival is dependent on the price of natural rubber and since 2011, the price of rubber has been going down from Rs 210 per kg in 2010 to just Rs 126 per kg today.

The day also witnessed a protest in front of the secretariat here with a group of tribals continuing their stand in-dharna demanding land for landless tribals.