Kochi: Though Onam is the national festival of Kerala, it does not have any such official tag about it. The officials in various government departments went on a wild goose chase when a Kochi native asked about the official status of Onam in government lexicon under the RTI Act. Finally, the babus in the state bureaucracy found that there is nothing in official records about Onam being declared as the national festival of Kerala.
Mr Dhanraj had filed applications under the Right to Information before at least five departments of the state. He got replies from the state archives department and the department of culture. The culture department said that there was no such order. The department, after conducting a search, confined its reply to a single line, “We hereby inform you that the order declaring Onam as the national festival of Kerala is not from this department.”
Mr Dhanraj got the reply from Mr B.Sunil Kumar, under- secretary of the culture department. He sent the reply on July 12. Mr Dhanraj's query is pending before Kerala state department of archaeology, general administration and tourism departments. When contacted, the tourism department said that there was no such order with the department and asked the reporter to check with the general administration department. The GAD also said there was no such order.
“I was just curious. We all celebrate Onam irrespective of faith and religion. I put RTIs just to find whether there is an order declaring Onam as our national festival. The festival is round the corner and so I thought I could celebrate this Onam with an official order,” Mr Dhanraj said. The new principal secretary, tourism department, gave the best answer: “Do we really need an order to celebrate Onam?”