Entertainment Kollywood 04 Sep 2017 Onam, then and now

Onam, then and now

Published Sep 4, 2017, 12:00 am IST
Updated Sep 4, 2017, 12:26 am IST
Celebrities share their favourite memories of the festival and on how it has changed over the years.
Parvatii Nair
 Parvatii Nair

An annual festival for Malayalis in and outside Kerala, Onam is celebrated with much fanfare. Though a Hindu festival, people from other religions usually participate in Onam celebrations, considering it as a cultural festival.

From making pookalam (flower carpet) to having onasadya together, Onam is one festival which brings all the family members together. On this auspicious day, a few film celebrities open up about their Onam memories they wish to bring back.


Parvatii Nair
Having been brought up in Abu Dhabi, celebrating Onam at my grandma’s place in Kerala was a very memorable experience for me. I was in school then, and we travelled to our native place Ranny, near Sabarimala, in Kerala, to celebrate the festival.

Our house is situated on the banks of Pampa River and it’s a beautiful hilly region. My first and second cousins and my relatives had gathered there that year. We enjoyed a lot and celebrated for three days. And we had a lavish, 26 dish Onam sadya, apart from colorful kolams, new attires and lovely gifts. As a group, we all visited the temple in the evening. It was the happiest time I ever had in my life.


It’s my most special Onam till date and I miss it as well. I feel Onam, as a festival, has become more commercial in modern days. There are special lunches and similar activities that many establishments offer — it may be good for those away from home, as many, due to work commitments, may not be able to go home.  But there’s no true spirit of people coming together. So, I feel it is more of a marketing technique.

After becoming an actress, the festival has become totally different. Because of star value, a lot of people call me as their guest during Onam and present expensive gifts like crystal and other showpieces. Even this year, there were events at Bengaluru and Chennai. But, I prefer to go to my mom’s native Adoor and spend quality time there with my family!


Santosh Sivan
Onam is a very special festival to Malayalis, irrespective of the religion they belong to. The idea of Onam itself is to meet all the family members and have the typical onasadya and spend time chatting and reminiscing old memories. And this Onam, I am going to spend my time with my father in Thiruvananthapuram. I will also be meeting my school mates. They are in different parts of the world, but will be coming down to celebrate the festival. So, this is a kind of mini reunion for us!

Sshivada Nair
Generally, for Onam, all the families would get together at their native place in Kerala, which would wear a festive look over the course of 10 days. There would be pookalam, tiger dances, boat races, mask dances, and more, all through the festival time. But for me, since we were settled in Chennai during my school days, we used to celebrate our Onam here. We stayed in an apartment complex of 20 flats and we were the only Malayali family there! So, my mom would cook the entire sadya at home and invite all friends, relatives and others to home. Everyone would be curious to know about how these foods are prepared. It used to be a happy occasion and fun. We also follow the tradition of putting Poo Kolams in a big way and feel like we were in Kerala itself! Those were memorable Onam celebrations for me.


I miss all those now post becoming an actress. This time, I have taken a break from my shoot in Ooty and I am at my mother’s place in  Angamaly in Kochi and celebrating my Onam. Later in the evening, I will travel to my husband Murali Krishnan’s native Allappey.

Abhishek George
I  was born in Chennai and studied in Mumbai. But all our families would get together in Wayanad for every Onam during my childhood. At that time, I never understood the whole culture as to why we celebrate Onam and all that. For me, it was more like a family get-together, and ours was a huge family. Everything used to be a lot of fun — my brother, cousins and I would get dressed in shirt and mundu and we would be in kitchen making sadya.


But now, it has become more of a nuclear family life. So today, it would just be the four of us having sadya — but I’ve told my mom that I would be there and help her with preparing aviyal and my brother would make sambhar! I generally feel that as we’ve grown up, there are responsibilities and with the fact we’re running behind our goals and ambitions, we forget to look back and hold on to things that used to be important.

Bejoy Nambiar
I was born and brought up in Mumbai and the two festivals that we celebrate religiously are Onam and Vishu.


And I make sure to celebrate the festivals with all their fervour with my family. At my home in Mumbai, my parents used to always recreate the entire Onam scene.

We make onasadya either at our place or my uncle’s place. We celebrate the festival in a big way and that’s been the tradition every year. And it still continues to be the same!

(With inputs from Balajee CR)