Today is Onam. Every year, on Onam day, I turn from a multi-cultural, multi-lingual, international citizen into a typical malayali woman, with visions of myself in ‘settu mundu’ with ‘mullappoove’ in my hair and a ‘pookkalam’ in front of my house.
Growing up, I always thought of Onam and its associated festivities as my birthright. Something that came with being born a malayali. It was only when I came to Brunei, that I felt that as a Christian, me celebrating Onam was seen by many people as something of an incongruity. It felt as though I was usurping someone else’s myths, legends and heritage. Well, there will always be narrow-mindedness and religious bigotry on earth, no matter how much we progress.
Today, as always, Onam sort of reminds me who I am and grounds me in the myths and legends of my home land. Despite the multitude of sins the typical ‘mallu’ commits on a daily basis, including misogyny, I am proud of being a Keralite, a subject of King Mahabali. I consider it a privilege to own such a rich heritage, and feel the music and beats of ‘thiruvathira’ and ‘pulikali’ in my bones.
Happy Onam dear friends.