Kerala in festive mood for Onam

Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 16 : Irrespective of caste or creed, thousands of people in Kerala Monday celebrated Onam with the traditional "Onam sadhya", a rich and delicious platter of 26 food items.

Thiru Onam, the most important day in the Onam week, was celebrated Monday.

However, the practise of making the traditional Onam Sadhya in many homes in Kerala has virtually vanished. Many people preferred to enjoy the holidays lolling about in their homes or visiting places.

"This is the first time in six decades that we decided not to prepare the sadhya in our home. We decided to place orders at a hotel," said Sreekumari Amma, a housewife in Kottayam.

Hotels and catering establishments, however, had a roaring business and said they were finding it difficult to meet the orders for Onam Sadhya.

"By Saturday itself, we had to stop taking orders because we would be unable to meet the demand. For some, we would supply the sadhya tomorrow (Tuesday)," said Vinod Kumar, who runs a catering business in the capital city.

With prices of vegetables and other essential items rising like never before, hotels and caterers are charging a minimum of Rs.220 for an Onam Sadhya packed in good quality plastic containers.

Rains also have dented the Onam festivities to an extent.

State government employees, however, have an extra reason to celebrate as their salary for September was paid in advance to help them celebrate Onam.

"Sales are not bad. One reason why people thought Onam festivities would be affected was the price rise because of the weakening rupee," said Kumar Nath, who owns a home appliances shop in Kochi.

"With Kerala's economy propped up by the diaspora remittances, the price rise to a certain extent has not been felt because practically every Kerala household has at least one person working abroad," he said.

Huge crowds were seen in front of the state-owned Beverages Corporations, the sole wholesaler of liquor in Kerala.

"All our shops have stocked up more than enough to meet the requirements. If indications are right, then we should be clocking record sales of more than Rs.100 crore for the Onam days," said an official of the state excise department.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who left for his constituency Kottayam by train, said it was just another day and he was not in the habit of celebrating events.

"He (Chandy) decided to take the train so as to see that his personal and security staff can celebrate Onam at their homes. For the past two days, he had Onam Sadhya with mentally-challenged children at his official residence," a close aide told IANS.

Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan reached his hometown Alappuzha Sunday evening to celebrate Onam with his family.

--IANS (Posted on 16-09-2013)

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