a writing by Satheesan Rangorath

My Stories—I was maturing early in my child hood

After harvesting season, just after the monsoon, nature slowly starts to bloom unfolding its various colours. Countryside, valley and forest don an outfit in silky leaves. Wild flowers start bloom in every nook and corner its fragrance mingled with fresh air intoxicated me. Wilderness of forest turned into a soothing wave of nature, nodding to the tunes of country melodies and folk music. Singing of birds mingled with the air of celebrations. Some seasonal birds too fly across chasing a dream. They sing some peculiar tune mingled with some colloquial slang made me wonder, how they have captured the diction of language. To my surprise they come and sing only during that Particular season. Children are having vacation. It is called ONAM festival vacation I was one among the children who does not have a holiday, as I have not started my schooling. It is a bad season for me as my father will be at home for continuous ten days and will be supervising my studies. I was quite sure that he would not let me go along with other children for playing. Onam festival celebrations begin exactly 10 days before Onam.

Onam is celebrated all over Kerala as a New Year festival. The significance of festival is linked to myth and history. A king named Mahabali ruled Kerala in an efficient and noble manner. During his reign, he had eradicated poverty and theft all over his kingdom. All sorts of misbehavior and misappropriations were dealt with efficiently. His subjects lived in harmony and friend ship. People loved their King very much. His fame spread allover world. Neighboring kingdoms were jealous of him. Even celestial beings and demy gods could not appreciate his efficiency. So a delegation was sent to Vishnu supreme god of sustenance. Lord told the delegation that he will take care of it and went to his meditation. Soon after, he decided to pay a visit to king, and reached his palace. This king was famous for giving alms to any body who asks him. No one used to leave his palace With out satisfying his or her desires. Therefore, lord reached his palace in disguised attire by dwarfing himself as Brahmin priest. King received him warmly with full honor. As usual king asked Brahmin the reason for his visit. The boy replied that he is in search of a three Feet land for him to do penance. If king could help, it would make him happy. King allowed to take whatever the boy wants for his Meditation. The boy turned into a giant man and with one foot fall he took over the entire earth, with the next step he measured the entire cosmos and asked king where to place his third step, the kind understood who is visiting him and bowed his head and asked Lord to place his third food measure on his head. With that, he surrendered to lord. Surrender is what he likes best because you are submitting your ego at his feet, then he takes care as small” I “ crosses Big” I”.Now before disappearing in to the annals of history the great king asked a boon from lord Vishnu, permission to visit his subjects every year and observe well-being of his subjects. Lord granted the boon and departed. People in Kerala live in the glory and memory of king Mahabali and prepares to receive him in grandeur .Reminiscence of my first Onam that I could remember is the one I am going to write below. As part of celebrations, festivities begin before ten days of Onam. Children, old, youngster and women all have a role to play in the festivities. In order to receive the great king,Houses will be white washed afresh. Front yard is cleaned and spared cow dung mixed in water; it has an antibiotic effect and will have a clean and auspicious look. Pleased note that cows are considered a sacred animal in India. Every day after lunch children move out in gangs with a flower basket in hand, they run everywhere the countryside in order to pluck different flowers. These flowers are arranged in beautiful patterns on the front yard of each house. All the members of the family join in arranging flowers. Head of family will be busy in buying provisions and other necessary things for the celebration.
Usually all the members of the family will be presented with new dresses to be worn on Onam day. On the day on honor a statue of king is made in a conical rectangular shape With red clay, this will then be decorated with freshly ground raw rice paste. Beautiful flowers will be arranged on and around the statue to have majestic look. Statue shall be placed on the front yard over the flower pattern. Name of every family member will be written on the floor with liquid rice paste. Women dance around the king by singing a peculiar tune. Older women sing and watch the dance. Youngsters will join for a particular ball game called “Thalama”. The game has several stages as it progress.Men will be playing Chess or cards.

As far as I am concerned, I could not participate in any of the festivities as I was asked to continue my studies. I felt jealous with my friends and sister, who had whale of a time.Moreover, my father omitted me from the list for new clothes while my sister and mother got fresh Sarees and gowns. My sister got a silk gown that I appreciated much. I did not feel any thing for not being considered and eligible for new dresses. I had a little fear too to protest, as my experiences with my father taught me remain silent. I think I was maturing early in my child hood.

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