THE Malayali diaspora in Bathurst gathered at the Holy Trinity Parish Hall recently to celebrate the Onam Festival.
The festival, which is held each September, is celebrated by families getting together in traditional wear, creating an intricate floral carpet called Pookalam, enjoying a feast (sadya) and participating in cultural events and games.
The Malayali diaspora in Bathurst is made up of about 50 people from the southern Indian state of Kerala, according to one of its number, Bency Paul.
“Onam is the biggest and most important festival of the state of Kerala,” he said.
“It is a harvest festival and is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm all over the state by people of all communities.
“According to a popular legend, the festival is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam.”
Mr Paul said Onam is celebrated at the beginning of the month of Chingam, the first month of the Malayalam Calendar (Kollavarsham).
“This corresponds with the month of August-September according to the Gregorian calendar,” he said.
“The carnival of Onam lasts from four to 10 days. The first day, Atham, and 10th day, Thiruonam, are most important of all.
“The popularity and presentation of rich culture of the state during the carnival made Onam the national festival of Kerala in 1961.
“Elaborate feasts, folk songs, elegant dances, energetic games, elephants, boats and flowers are all a part of the dynamic festival.”