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Madhu Nambiar

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Onam Celebration
Sunday, September 14, 2003  5:45:00 AM

by Madhu Nambiar

Sur Malayali community's Onam celebration

Sur Malayalis’ Onam Celebration concludes

Sur – September 12: The final phase of Onam celebrations by Sur Malayalis concluded at Sur Beach Hotel Auditorium with a variety of cultural programme, a few among them were innovative.

The programme began with a formal welcome speech by Onam Celebration Committee General Convenor Kanakan and Co-convenor V.P. Ramachandran. Symbolic Mahabali then inaugurated the programme by lighting the traditional lamp.

Ramachandran highlighted the Sur Malayali togetherness’ responses to all socio-political-economic issues of India and social services it extends to all needy people in association with Pravasalokam.

P.K. Ali of the programme committee made the English speech in which he said: “…….Often, I am afraid, year after year, due to changing socio-economic-political situation back in its origin, the real spirit of this harvest festival, which gives the message of equality and brotherhood, is diminishing. However, for expatriate Malayalis, Onam is unity and brotherhood. No where in the contemporary world exists this type of festival.

Onam has no place of any kind of discrimination. However, unfortunately, the autocratic rulers after the mythological king Mahabali and the modern rulers in democratic set up classified us in many ways. We are confined in the majority and minority classes. We are confined in economic classes. We are confined in all sorts of vested interests. It should not be like that for the Mahabali subjects. But, unfortunately, we are. One or the other way.

Yet, in these invisible sectarian confinements, we are here to celebrate Onam. In memory of a glorious bygone era. Onam is binding us. Binding us in oneness. That is its peculiarity. When we try to run away or escape from Onam, Onam catches and brings back to its fold. That is Onam. That is the magnetic power of Onam. Onam is the symbol of that ultimate victory of goodness over evil. Onam hates the evil of sectarianism. “Manusharallarum Onnupole” is what Onam teaches us. “Manusharallarum Onnupole” means all human beings are equal.

We are gathered here in that Mahabalian concept of unity in diversity. We Malayalis, whoever we are, wherever we are, we can not run away from Onam. Because, Onam is that much universal for us.

When we use the term “Malayalis”, it does not mean that we are isolating other linguistic communities. Malayalam is an umbrella of shelter for Malayalis.


As far as Sur Malayalis are concerned, they never hesitated in extending humanitarian assistance to anyone. During the Kargil crisis, during the Gujrat and Orissa crises, whether it was natural calamities, whether it was communal holocaust, we were there in the front line to extend moral support to the victims and their kith and kin and to extend financial assistances….”

A number of cultural programme co-ordinated by George Philip lasted for seven hours. Classical dance, semi classical dance, folk dance, fishermen dance, Rajasthani dance, cinematic dance, thiruvathirakkali, margam kali, villadichan pattu, poorakkali, mimicry, mono act, maveli skit, Gandhi smriti, ganamela, mappila pattu, folk song, key board playing, poorakkali, thaiyyam and thayambaka were well enjoyed by the fully packed audience. Among these well-accepted items, the most applauded with pin drop silence were thayambaka and thaiyyam.

The thayambaka was performed by Anand Madhusoodanan, a young artist of 15 years who is a SSLC student at Perambra Higher econdary School. Anand is a Thayambaka student at Unnayi Warrier Smaraka Kalanilayam in Irinjalakkuda for 11 years. He was the prominent disciple of Kalamandalam Sivadasan, to whom the Ministry of Human esources of the Central Government conferred up a junior fellowship. At present, he is studying under Kala Nilayam Satheesan. Anand came to Sur for a family visit during his Onam vacations when he got the opportunity to participate in the Sur Onam Celebration. It was Anand’s first ever overseas performance. He got invitation to participate in ISC Kerala Wings’ Onam Celebration to be held the next week at Muscat.

Among a wide variety of thaiyyam, the one performed was Pookuttichathan which itself is in sixty-four kinds. Although it was a difficult task to arrange its costume due to various reasons, yet, it was made perfection and was an innovative item performed in Sur. A few artists worked for many days to make the costumes in a more attractive and acceptableway and make the thaiyyam in all its original and traditional. The thaiyyam was performed by Chandran Kandoth. Another important hand behind thaiyyam was Suresh Alees.

Besides Thayambaka and Thaiyyam, another innovative item was Willadichanpattu or Willpattu, a very old form of art in Kerala.

In its inception, Willpattu was related to only Sreerama stories but later shifted narrating mythology related to temple festivals. Slowly, it started telling stories of social issues of the locality where it performed. When time passed by, it has turned a forum to criticize the tyrannous landlords sarcastically. The main idea behind performing Willadichanpattu was Chandran Kandoth.


Earlier, on 5th September, Friday, an art and literary competition – Drawing & colouring for junior children and drawing & painting for senior children, Pookkalam (flower bed), poem recitation and Malayalam Quiz—was conducted at Sur Club. Prizes to the winners were distributed by symbolic Mahabali at the commencement of
the cultural programme.

Contribution of local business community and participation of all art lovers made the programme a grand success.

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