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Onam:A perspective

by: Joshua

I don’t really know how I’m gonna start this but let’s see how it goes?

I’m not a Malayali, so I was clearly shocked when I was tasked with writing a piece on Onam. I was asked to write about Onam from my perspective and thanks to my ‘mallu’ peeps I have some content.

Also, I’m guessing almost everyone knows why Onam is celebrated but just in case someone is unaware, I shall specify. Onam is a harvest festival usually taking place around August and September. It is celebrated for 10 days with various festivities and activities. 

All the knowledge I have about Onam is from my ‘mallu’ friends(all “amazing”). My best friend is a Malayali, so growing up I spent a fair amount of time at his place, chilling. I spent last Thiruvonam(last day of Onam) at his place and I was a bit surprised looking at the food(Obviously I’m gonna talk about the food). Essentially, I don’t really eat vegetarian food much and it being a festival day, well….there was only veg food, so I was a bit like umm…okay…

The meal is called Sadhya and is eaten over a banana leaf. I sat at the edge of the table, getting ready to eat when one by one the dishes were served and instantly filled the entirety of the leaf. The amount of variety was insane and really overwhelming at first. I don’t remember what the dishes were called but I have to say, they were DELICIOUS. I rarely say this for veg dishes but they were amazing and I was stuffed to the point where I couldn’t move(whew). 

In school, all our teachers would wear the traditional white and gold saree and we would have a huge pookalam(flower rangoli is my best description) in the lobby. The best part was even the teachers who weren’t from Kerala would join in and celebrate, showing their love for Onam.

Okay, so I took a break in between writing this piece since I was out of ideas but I think I might be onto something small.

Since I joined VIT I’ve met a lot of new people and made quite a few mallu friends. These people are so annoying yet so chill, especially this one character(inserts upside-down head emoji) but I’ll tell you about them some other day. So essentially they’ve introduced me to Malayalam media and I wasn’t really expecting it to be so good. From movies to songs and even a youtube channel. Coming to my point, so the aforementioned channel is named Karikku and they make hilariously funny videos in Malayalam(since I don’t understand a lot of it, I use subtitles) and they have like two videos based on Onam which feature short stories. They show how bachelors miss celebrating Thiruvonam with their families and try to make things work among themselves but don’t really succeed. It also involves various plot points which make it hilarious. Towards the end, they are shown united and together and how the spirit of oneness bonds them together. Just like it’s shown, Onam is a festival that is fun when celebrated with one another, with friends and family. My friends have opened my mind to new experiences and I thank them for that(if not for them I don’t know how I would’ve written this piece). Unfortunately this Onam I won’t be able to go have Sadhya(inserts crying emoji). I do not exaggerate when I tell you how tasty it is but it is yummmmmm. 

I don’t know what more I could add to this but considering I went from eating Sadhya to talking about a Malayali youtube channel and I am surprised I had things to talk about. Honestly, never have I struggled to write a piece like this but at the same time, I genuinely loved writing this. Lots of memories came running back to me while I was thinking about this, made me a bit happy 🙂

Happy Onam to everyone and especially to my Mallu Kuttis( the word means small)<3. Hope y’all have an amazing time!

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culture ethnic Family feelings festival Food Happiness language life New Year

TELUGU NUTHANA SAMVATSARA SUBHAKANKSHALU

by: Rithika Palvayi

Hmmmm, if I’d have to choose between “3, 2, 1…..Happy New Year” and, “Ugadi Subhakankshalu”, I’d go with the latter, any day. Because apart from wearing our traditional outfits and clicking some of the best pictures, there’s much more than you’d expect there to be. You might be appalled by the revelation, but I’m guessing you won’t be if you kept reading. 

If you’re also thinking, “what the hell?”, you should take a trip to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana (went by alphabetical order, no biasing) – the two profound Telugu states of India, during April, more or less. That’s when our New Year celebrations take place. The fun in waking up to the smell of the tamarind paste/juice stands unparalleled. The special delicacy we make that day is not only our favorite breakfast, lunch, and dinner but also holds importance and much meaning in our lives. 

Bet you’re curious to know what’s so tasty about it. Let me walk you through.

I had to ask my Grandma for all the information. I definitely prefer her over Google and I’m intransigent about it. 

We start by grating off slices or chopping up fine pieces of jaggery which is the purest form of sweet. And it happens to represent happiness in our life. And we add much more jaggery than any other ingredient because we love to believe that no matter what, life would turn out well in the end. 

Then comes the unripe mango, also small pieces again. Preferably so, because it stands for the surprises thrown at us during this journey. I bet not many are fans of that surprise element, huh? 

Maybe they also have the greater good motive, we never know. 

Remember the tamarind I was flaunting about? Ah, yes. Woefully, being so tasty, tamarind happens to represent the feeling of disgust. That same feeling I happen to experience when I see pictures of couples on my Instagram. 

The real surprising element here is the neem flower. It depicts the sorrows. You might not know but it tastes bad. If you ever taste the ‘Ugadi pachadi’, do not bite on this flower. It’ll ruin everything, just like sadness does. Watch the movie Inside Out, you’ll know that sadness is the enemy. Did you also know that neem has antifungal properties? 

And then comes the Telugu people’s most favorite vegetable – chilies. I prefer chili powder to this, though. It’s here to show the anger. Be it pent up or that had been taken out on your soft toys. We add this in the least amounts of all because of obvious reasons.

This one ingredient makes its presence known. Yeah, it’s the salt. It represents fear. Maybe that’s why my mom adds extra salt into my glass when I have this because generally I’m a brave person, but you put on a horror movie, I’m scared more than a scaredy-cat.  

My mom also adds bananas for the sweetness. It only ‘engorgio’s the taste. Another choice could be sugarcane pieces too.   

You should also know that Ugadi means ‘Start of a new Yug’. This tradition of celebration was started by a great king, Gautamuiputra Shatakarni. Note that he put his mother’s name before his. On a side note: RESPECT WOMEN AS MUCH THEY DESERVE.

If you’d noticed, I womansplained six simple tastes to you all. They’re called ‘shadh ruchulu’ – literally meaning six tastes. Unlike most of our lives, this ‘pachadi’ has a balance of taste, which wishes the ones having it to also have proportionate amounts of right feelings and balanced life. 

Hope you visit the  Telugu states and have this beautiful and the tastiest traditional concoction which, I promise also is a cleanse to your body.

PS: Having too much on the same day might result in sitting in the bathroom the next day for a long time, so I’ll go charge my phone already. 

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culture Day ethnic Family festival Friends India

Bura Na Mano, Holi Hai!

by:Viraaj

Holi – the festival where people rejoice and celebrate forgetting their biases/ grudges and come together as one with bright shimmering colours all over them, loaded with pichkaris and water balloons, sweet/ savories, and not to be missed – bhaang – the favorite drink of Lord Shiva. It is a festival that aims at teaching each other equality as people apply colour to each other’s faces regardless of their caste, gender, and religion. 

Being celebrated all over India, the festival goes by many names, Rang Panchmi in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, Phakuwah in Assam, Basant Utsav in West Bengal, Manjal Kuli in Kerala to name a few.  It is also celebrated in Mauritius, Fiji, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

Holi is celebrated in the month of Phalgun, which generally falls around February or March. The festival starts the night before Holi, marked by Holika Dahan, where a bonfire or Holika is lit around dusk and everyone gathers around it, eating or talking with their friends. 

Holika Dahan is followed by Holi, which marks the triumph of good over evil and truth over ignorance. There are many stories that talk about the origin of Holi, one such story shows the origins of Lord Krishna’s blue skin complexion. On being poisoned by the Putana’s breast milk, Lord Krishna’s skin turned blue in colour making him doubt if the fair-skinned Radha would like him. His mother suggested smearing colour on Radha’s face and changing her complexion. He did as he was told and Radha accepted him despite his skin colour. As a result, Holi is also celebrated as the festival of divine love of Radha and Krishna. 

Today, not one year goes by without articles on how harmful synthetic colours are and how polluting it is, but Holi was never a polluting festival. The colours used in ancient times were all extracted from different natural sources, such as flower petals and spices. These also had medicinal properties and benefited the skin. 

As industries grew, the production of synthetic colours became cheaper and their sale became profitable, this resulted in the popularisation of these synthetic colours and the decline of organic colours. However, with the rising concerns of the negative impacts of synthetic colours, organic colours have become more common during Holi celebrations.

Every colour used in Holi has a significance:-

Blue represents Lord Krishna’s blue skin complexion, 

Red symbolizes love and matrimony, 

Green symbolizes new beginnings., 

Yellow signifies health and happiness and 

Orange, though not traditionally used in Holi, can be seen being used frequently today, it symbolizes the sun which represents a new day.

This year, we are in the middle of a pandemic, and celebrating Holi as we did a few years ago may not be possible. This doesn’t mean we stop celebrating the festival, this year, we can celebrate the festival by spending time with our loved ones, forgiving the grudges we bear against each other, and accept people regardless of their caste, religion, or gender. This year let’s ensure that we are able to overcome the pandemic, following the rules set by the government, staying true to the heart of Holi, and overcoming the evil of COVID-19.