Sarjapur Road community celebrates Onam, and how!

Springfields Apartments near the Outer Ring Road junction. Pic: bhooshan Iyer.

The kingdom of heaven was discovered at an apartment complex on Sarjapur Road last weekend. We are referring to the Onam celebrations conducted at Springfields Apartments near the Outer Ring Road junction. In this massive complex of over 550 apartments, close to a thousand people turned up to view the festivities that were spread over two days.

Lighting of the Lamp & Crowd. Pic: Bhooshan Iyer.

The singular event, organised by a handful of people from various walks of life under the banner of Springfields Welfare Association, boasted of a wide array of programs such as the awe-inspiring Garudan Parava (dance/ritual art form performed by artists in Kali temples of south Kerala), live music, Vadam vali (Tug of War), Mahabali Varavu (arrival of King Mahabali), Thiruvaathirakali (traditional kerala dance), Kalari Payattu (ancient Indian martial arts) and Mohiniyaattom, that gave the multi-cultural audience of Springfields a true taste of Kerala.

Springfields is home to a vibrant community that comprises people from almost every region in India. Therefore it is a matter of great pride for every community to showcase its culture in their respective regional festivals. Onam celebrations which debuted here last year turned out to be a whopping success and therefore the organisers decided to go one step forward this year and have a two-day event.

Kalari. Pic: Bhooshan Iyer.

The festivities, sponsored by Lalith Gangadhar Constructions Pvt. Ltd. commenced on Friday, September 3rd with a superlative orchestra performance or Gaanamela, which reeled out one hit after the other, both in Hindi and in Malayalam, regaling the audience with their enthusiasm and perfection. This was followed up with the eagerly-anticipated Garudan Parava or Garudan Thookkam. According to ancient lore, the mighty Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu, performed this dance to appease the bloodthirsty Goddess Kali after her battle with two fierce asuras. In this temple art form, an artist dressed up resplendently as Garuda, performs a hypnotic dance to the enthralling beats of the Chendamelam (drums). The scene is illuminated with fire torches, adding to the splendour of the ambience. As the dancer and his frenzied acolytes worked up a crescendo, the audience was transported to a different plane of divinity and magnificence.

Arrival of Mahabali. Pic: Bhooshan Iyer.

The next morning’s programs were heralded by an energetic Chendamelam performance, followed by the traditional Vadamvali which garnered participation cutting across age barriers. Then it was time to welcome the beloved King of God’s own country – the much-imitated Mahabali. He was brought in with all fanfare due to royalty, with hand maidens showering flowers on him and soldiers waiting on him. After the king had lit the ceremonial lamp and appraised the massive Pookkalam (floral arrangement) that had been laid out in his honour, he proceeded to felicitate the Vadamvali champions in true Kerala style – with gifts of banana chips and tender coconuts.

Pookalam. Pic: Bhooshan Iyer.

Next was the Thiruvathira Kali or Kai Kotti Kali, traditionally performed by women on Onam eve. The graceful dance, with its harmonious and rhythmic movements, won the hearts of one and all. Following this, Kalaripayattu, the ancient marital art of Kerala was given a fitting tribute by some young aficionados, who awed the audience with their lithe movements. Providing an apt closure to the fiesta was a Mohiniyaattam performance by an acclaimed dancer. Mohiniyaattam, literally meaning ‘the dance of the seductress’ is characterised by slow, languorous movements and elaborate eye movements. The fine balance of power and spirituality evinced by the artiste held the audience spellbound till the very end.

Thiruvathira. Pic: Bhooshan Iyer.

After the cultural extravaganza, it was time to feast like kings. The Onasadya, with its mind-boggling spread of over eighteen vegetarian dishes was truly a feast for the senses. They came, they ate and were conquered. The praises poured in and the invitees returned home with a sense of experiencing the little coastal kingdom right at their doorstep.

See more photos here .

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About Meera Nair 5 Articles
Meera Nair is a Bengaluru-based writer, translator and active citizen of Bellandur.