As I wake up with the delightful fragrance of flowers tickling my nose, I realize that the joyous celebrations of Onam have begun.

As a Maharas

htrian, I had no idea about the grand celebrations of Onam, but after shifting to The U.A.E, I definitely have realized the beauty and the significance of Onam.

For six years of my life, I have spent the 10 days of August with great joy and pompous celebrations. I have seen my friend's mothers preparing the Onam Pookalam (flower Rangoli) with around ten different flowers of which I still can't figure out which one is what. Whenever I think about Sadhya, my mouth starts watering. I still can't forget the first time I had Sadhya (a vegetarian feast served on banana leaf) I was not able to have anything for the next two days. The graceful dance Thumbi Thullal and the powerful Pulikali are a treat to watch. And who can miss out the Vallum Kali (boat riding competition)

But my favorite part was sitting with my friend’s ‘ammuma’ and listening to the stories of the return of King Mahabali to his homeland and people from the netherworld. And now, as I sit in front of the hostel’s TV, I realize that Onam has become more pertinent and relevant this year than it ever was.

Onam is one of the biggest festivals for Malayalis. The festival is celebrated with much fanfare and exuberance every year. This year, however, things are different for our Keralite brothers and sisters as they have just started recovering from the worst floods the state has ever faced in a century. According to government reports, 265 people have lost their lives and over 3600 people are missing. With over 8.69 lakh people still in 2,287 relief camps, it remains a subdued ‘Onam’, the harvest festival in the state.

The festival of Onam in 2018 is very metaphorical as it welcomes the people of Kerala back home after spending around a month or more in the disastrous rains and floods which were in no way lesser horrific than the netherworld.

This year there will be no banana leaves to serve Sadhya, rather, in most of the houses Sadhya won't even be prepared. The atmosphere won't carry the smell of the Pookalam flowers, the womenfolk won't dress up in their magnificent gold and white sarees, the traditional dances Pulikali and Thumbi Thullal won't be performed, and there won't be the world famous Vallum Kali. But in spite of this I know that Kerala will rise, they will celebrate Onam in the right spirits. Keralites will feast on the plain rice just as they did on Sadhya, they will decorate their lives with the same spirit with which they decorated their houses and made Pookalam. And instead of using the boats for the competition they will use them to search for survivors of the disaster.

The survivors will come together in their camps, houses, temples, mosques, churches, etc and will try to forget the harrowing memories of the floods that turned their lives upside down and threw them into uncertainty.

One of the most special features of the festival is that it isn’t restricted to one particular caste or religion, all people irrespective of their backgrounds come together and decorate the God’s own country. This year too, all people irrespective of their background came together and are coming together to help the God’s own country.

As the black dark clouds are moving away, the sun has started to shine, brightness is trying and in some way succeeding in defeating the gloomy clouds and the intimidating climate. Similarly, after this terrible calamity, I see a positive side to it, I see humanity.

I read how my mMuslim brothers and sisters are offering their nNamaaz in temples, I see my sSikh brothers and sisters working hard in order to provide hygienicsafe and nutritious food, I do see both the governments, both centre and state working to provide relief in the affected regions. I see my country’s army working day and night to provide safety, security, and comfort to those affected, but most importantly, I see people, people coming out from all parts of the world coming out and contributing in whatever way they can, to provide some sort of comfort to those who are in need for it.

No matter what calamity arises we as world citizensthe residents of the world must come together and be the pillars of strength, the knight in shining armour for each other and come out of every situation with courage, determination, and hope.

And to all belonging to the God’s own country, remember –

That after every BAD day comes a GLAD day, you just have to believe.

When the rain is pouring down,

There will be a sunshine at the break of dawn.

When the wait is long

You will have to be strong,

And if you are strong

You will surely surpass this storm.

Someday somehow you will get through

To the goal in your view

Life is tough

Things are rough

But make sure you don’t give up!!

Believe in yourself and your plan

And remember yes you can.

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