Music kindles love and infuses hope. It inspires, strengthens and melts the hardest hearts. And this is clearly what was witnessed on people’s faces during the Onam festival.
Malayalee Association in Rwanda, a secular organisation of Malayalees (people hailing from the southern state of ‘Kerala’ in India) celebrated Onam on Sunday night, September 11, at UTEXRWA in Gisozi, Kigali.
Mathew Varghese, the General Secretary of the Rwanda Malayalee Association, said that Onam is the biggest and most important festival of Kerala.
“Onam is a harvest festival and it is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm all over the state irrespective of caste and creed. Malayalees celebrate the festival to welcome ‘King Mahabali’ the most popular legendary king of Kerala,” he said.
Varghese explained that King Mahabali’s reign in Kerala was believed to be marked by a golden period for the people.
“It was a period of peace, harmony, prosperity and happiness. There wasn’t a single event of any crime, and truth prevailed as the highest virtue,” Varghese noted.
He added: “That’s the reason for people to celebrate Onam as a way of welcoming King Mahabali.”
The festival was celebrated with much fervour and enthusiasm. ‘Athappookalam’— a colourful floral decoration and the traditional cultural programs of Kerala were performed by talented artistes from the Malayalee community, which created nostalgic sentiments among the audience.
Guests were also treated to ‘Onasadya’, the traditional vegetarian meal of ancient Kerala, consisting of 13 essential dishes and served on banana leaves.
As part of the Onam celebrations in Kigali, a quiz competition and motor show race were held and the winners awarded with attractive goodies.
The festival allowed Malayalees living in Kigali, who have left their native soil, Kerala, to get together and to know each other better.
The music and the dancing were great and the characters that also included children, kept the crowd thrilled.
Among the 300 people participated in the festival, almost 200 were people hailing from Kerala while others were invited guests consisting of friends and well-wishers.