Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Happy Onam!

Disclaimer: I'm not Indian (obvi), and my husband's knowledge of his motherland is sketchily selective. I get most of my info from the internet, so I could very easily be misinformed. That, and, in my experience, if you ask 10 Indians about India you get 10 different answers.

Today is Onam - the biggest holiday in Kerala, the Indian state my beloved finds his roots.

Onam represents everything I love about India. For one, it's a holiday celebrating a mythical king. The king wasn't real, but he comes back every year to visit his loyal subjects. Apparently, he was a great (pretend) king, who had many virtues and his one downfall was his inflated ego. Is it me, or is that just a nice way of saying, "I might be just a little too perfect"? Love it.

The other thing I love about Onam is figuring out when it is:
Onam carnival continues for ten days, starting from the day of Atham and culminating on Thiru Onam. Atham and Thiru Onam are the most important days for Onam festivities. The day of Atham is decided by the position of stars. Onam festival commences from lunar asterism (a cluster of stars smaller than a constellation) Atham (Hastha) that appears ten days before asterism Onam or Thiru Onam.
Does that make sense at all? Easter drives me crazy enough with its shifty lunar dates - if it weren't for wikipedia, I'd never be able to figure this one out.

The other thing I love about Onam is this:
It's called pookkalam, and I think it is amazing. Children make designs out of flower petals that are just incredible. 
Anyway, to celebrate Onam, we are supposed to eat some 9-course elaborate meal. My slowly-growing taste for Indian food means I may like about 2 of those courses, so no Onam meal for us. 
But, the Indian side of the family comes in tomorrow, so I'm guessing there will be some Indian cooking going on in my kitchen over the weekend.  Happy Onam to all!


Katie @ Domestic Debacle said...

Those designs made from flower petals are amazing!

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