A Quest on Overdrive … :)

An eccentric rambler on life's lessons and mercies, found and lost… :)

At long last… of Onam, and an ending, to make a new beginning :)


Alert : Long flash back post! Lol! It started a  couple of weeks after Onam, and has been inspired entirely by Solilo and Deeps 🙂 They had both endearingly asked me to share the Onam moments; and I am so very sorry, Sol, and Deeps, that I have been so darned delayed in getting this to you 🙂 Therefore the relevance of this post stands outdated, yet it is one, like the Thrissur Pooram one, that I did so very much want to share:)

Also, this is to somehow make me want to get rid of my aches and pains, and my mental block, writer’s block et al, to energize me into getting back to blogging. I have been re-shaping this particular draft over the past three days, as and when time permits, in between corrections, spending time with the sons, and the parents, and renovation work at home 🙂 I guess I am a genius ( a self proclaimed one, please note) to have managed to get this far 🙂

Furthermore, this is to ensure that I tie up loose ends before the year ends, and that I will not carry excess baggage of “to do’s” into 2010!! (Huh?? Do I really believe that, I wonder!!! Rofl. Anyways, it feels good to have written that, and who knows, I may just con myself into believing it!!!! 😛 )

May the new year bring much happiness, love, laughter and luck into all our lives 🙂 May only good things happen most, and may the not so good ones help us discover more strength within 🙂 May we all be blessed to seek and acknowledge the good we see around, and speak out against injustice, and cruelty, most for those who cannot, themselves….

May we all just sail in tandem, with love, and enjoy each day for all its gifts…. 🙂


A Happy Happy New Year to each a every lovely one of you out there 🙂


This is for you, Solilo and Deeps (and of course, all of you who might find the patience to wade through the words 🙂 🙂 )

Years ago, as a wee girl ( sorry, make that aeons ago :D) my brothers and I would, every evening, at the twilight time, sandhya neram, as they say in Malayalam, sit down together with my mother, and recite little slokas, in praise of the different deities, and sing cantos from the Narayaneeyam, that my mother and aunt had painstakingly, and easily taught us. It was a lovely time, and we would vy with each other to recite best, and would be promised sweets for rendition without faltering. There was no forcing or indoctrination… just a feeling.. a good feeling of sitting down together, and praying together. At the end of the recitation of the slokas, we would recite the names of the “nakshatras”, the stars, that each day had, and the names of the months by the Malayalam calendar. So we’d go… “Ashwathi, Bharani, Karthika, Rohini, Makeeram…. to Poororattadhi, Uttrattadi, Ravathi… Naalu Iruvathyeezhu” – in other words, the names of the stars, followed by the phrase, there are 27 stars. And so also for the months in the calendar… Medam, Edavam, Mithunam, Karkkidakom, Chingam, Kanni, Thulam, Vrischikam, Dhanu, Makaram, Kumbham, Meenam… Raashi panthrandu- Translated, to mean… the names, twelve of them, being the 12 Rashis, of the year.

I narrate this incident only to tell you how very deeply ingrained certain things stay in our memories, because after the teenage years, I have not been regular, with the evening prayers, except for when my children were very little… 🙂 Once they too became teenagers, it had to be reminded to them, and even then sometimes we did not make time for it. However, they too, went through the routine of learning the nakshatra names, and the rashee names 🙂 🙂 That much happened, and they can recite it today too… though they perhaps have not recited it for more than six to seven years.. 🙂 I recall this more so now, whenever Onam comes around…

How I know that it is Onam, when the Thiruvonam day would come, and how we prepare for it, ten days in advance, on the day of Atham, and I also know how my children remember too! We still celebrate the English Birthdays, the day on which the date of birth falls, and the Perannal.. or the Malayalam Birthday, that comes, according to the stars that we were born under. So my Kunju, the FB, is Uthradam, Kunjunni, the SB is Revathi… and so on. Daddy’s is on Atham, THE Atham, that comes before Onam 🙂 This year it was truly special, for each year, only the kids and I get to spend it with them, my parents, but this year, my younger brother and his wife were also there, and it was lovely 🙂 🙂

And so started the countdown to Onam.

(Contd, after an aeon 🙂 ) Onam this year was hectic, because my mom wanted it at their home, and she was still recuperating from her knee surgery, to repair a torn ligament, and that had incapacitated her (read, made her walk more slowly, that is all! else she runs 🙂 ). She did the whole scene, food wise- the naaranga pickle (the vadukappuli variety), mulakaapachchadi (like the pulienji), kaalan, olan, elissery, not to mention the paayasam, and the chips, both the classic salted variety, and the sharakkara upperi (sweet, jaggery coated banana chunks 🙂 )

On the day before Thiruvonam, that is Onam day proper, is Uthraadam, or Onnu Onam (first Onam); this time we did a naadan, that is country style, dehati style pookkalam, the flower carpet with flowers from our very own garden… all those flowers that my mother takes regularly as offering to the temples she visits, and those she makes garlands out of, for her beloved deities. These were flowers like the Nandiarvattom and the Pazhivamalli, (the white flowers, that resemble the jasmine, and the Pavizhamalli has a lovely shade of orange in the middle),  the Kolambi flower ( kolambi means, pitcher like… pot like… 🙂 and this one is the bright yellow flower), the Shankhupushpam (the gorgeous blue flower), green leaves, and the omnipresent hibiscus and thulasi 🙂 I have included a few pictures of the flowers and the making of the pookkalam on Uthraadam day 🙂 First of all, the ground is sanctified with gobar, made out into a circular shape, with raised mound in the centre. It is here that the final flower, the hibiscus will be placed. We always start with a thulasi leaf, for benediction and benevolence and luck!! 🙂 The hands you can see in the picture are :our domestic help’s, her name is Shanta, and mine 🙂 And it is a series of concentric circles of contrasting shades derived from the petals of the flowers we gather 🙂

Here they are , the flowers, and the Pookkalam (the flower carpet 🙂 )

Shankhupushpam – the conch-flower (a literal translation that 🙂 )- a gorgeous shade of blue… for the pookkalam
The bright yellow “Kolambi” flower
The Pavizhamalli – a small white flower that resembles the jasmine 🙂

Alari poovu, another favourite home grown flower

The making of the pookkalam
This year’s naadan pookkalam … with home grown flowers only 🙂

On Onam day, it was the Thrikkakkarappan, or the symbolic representation of Lord Mahabali (made of clay, at home, the previous days ), that took the centrestage. Offerings  of “ada” (steamed coconut-jaggery-rice cakes in banana leaf) and bananas were made, and an umbrella adorned his place of honour 🙂 You can see the SB making the offering, in the puja. It rained and rained that day, but we were lucky to have been able to have the mud statues stay firm till the end 🙂

Making the offering of “ada” and bananas to Lord Mahabali, the Thrikkakkarappan 🙂
Thrikkakkarappan… an offering to Lord Mahabali, fruit and “ada”… 🙂

Of course, the sadhya followed, with much eating and fun! At the end of it all, mom all but collapsed, though happy that even this year her Onam was truly celebrated 🙂

The feast 🙂

The feast… taken from the SB’s mobile

***********  ************  ************  ***********

So that is the past unfinished business, neatly handled and done away with. I know it is really shoddy work, the writing, and the post itself, but I had resolved to tie up all my incomplete work, before the clock strikes 12 midnight on 31 Jan, 2009. Hopefully this will see the light of day by then!!!

Finally! Am now going to hit the publish button, before I get jittery about proof reading, layout, and all that stuff. If you got till here, I am your fan 🙂 Just let me know 🙂 🙂 I shall surely announce it to the world!

Thank you, each of you, for being here, and for your warmest support!

30 December, 2009

Author: Usha Pisharody

A rambler, pretends to be a teacher, loves to dream, and go on Quixotic Quests in the Realm of Romance With Life...

15 thoughts on “At long last… of Onam, and an ending, to make a new beginning :)

  1. is it comments moderation or m i really first ??????????

    First :D!Yes, comments moderation on 🙂

    Coongrats! And am honoured 🙂


    • Yay !!!!!! Happy New Year Ushus !!!!!! May this coming year be a wonderful year for you and bring loads of cheers !!!!!!! 😀 😀 😀

      🙂 Best wishes for always too, Dhiren… 🙂 🙂 🙂


  2. Welcome back, Ushus!

    Going out of town. Will come back and read. So happy to see you back.

    Sol… thanks for being in here 🙂 Happy to be here too 🙂


  3. 1st 🙂

    🙂 Dhiren is, yes 🙂 🙂 Thanks Rashmi 🙂


  4. gr8 pics and explanation of Onam…it always give pleasure to do recall childhood memories:-)

    Indeed yes, Rashmi… those memories are precious 🙂


  5. Thanks Usha,for bringing Onam in December.
    Wishes for a Great Year ahead for you and your dear ones.

    Thank you too, Govind 🙂 Warmest wishes for a great new year to you and yours 🙂


  6. First and foremost welcome back,Ushus! Its so good to read you again. You were sorely missed,Ushus 🙂

    Thanks deeps, missed being around here too 🙂

    And now to the post…that was a beautiful account,Ushus. So nostalgic! You knwo I’m amazed to notice the similarities between your household and the one I grew up in. Major portion of my childhood was spent with my grandparents and I remember how ammamma and achachan would ask me and brother to recite all the naamams in the evening along with the names of the stars and months. Oh and we had this typical way of saying ‘raashi panthrandu’ in the end 🙂 Ammamma even used to ask us to recite ‘Arjunan Phalgunan Paarthan…’,9 names of Arjun and for a very long time I used to think they were shlokas 😀 !

    Ah! How could I forget that one 🙂 Arjunan’s ten names! Did that one too, and made sure the kids learnt it as well! And did you know there are two ways of saying it? The malayalam and the sanskrit 🙂 I learnt the naadan mallu way, and my mother in law taught the kids the sanskrit way 🙂 So they know both 🙂 The FB is Arjun too 🙂 :)! To top it all, I wonder if you recall the scene in “Manichitrathazhu” when a scared and terrified Ganesh recites this when he thinks he’s seen the ghost!! Hilarious! And yes, “raashi panthrandu” there was that finalty about it!

    Even now we celebrate birthdays twice in a year.the DOB & pirannal. you know my brother’s naalu is Revathi too like ur kunjunni :).

    My gosh! you too! It really is nice to know that!

    They were such wonderful times,ushus. I do intend to start teaching Namnam,all the shlokas I know and names of months soon.

    With kids it’s such fun! I know that from the way the boys and I learnt it together too! I am sure you two will also find it an experience to remember with much joy 🙂
    Thank you so much Deeps… reading and re reading your words again brings much comfort 🙂

    Namnam calling me,usha..will be back to comment more. bye fr now and happy new year to you once again.
    lots of hugs come your way 🙂

    Happy new year to you and your loved ones too… and hugs to Namnam 🙂


    • oops a correction,…Arjun has 10 names. Sorry for the slip up,Ushus!

      I guess you were in a hurry! 😀 In fact, at the end we say… “Pathu naamangalum bhakthya jebichal, Nithya bhayangan agannu pogum nischayam” !!! 🙂


    • No,I didnt know there were two ways of saying ‘Arjunan Phalgunan..’. I learnt the mallu version too. Oh yes,I remember the scene in manichitrthaazhu. It was hilarious 🙂

      Thoroughly enjoyed reading how you celebrated Onam,Ushus. I’ve never had a chance to be in Kerala around that time. After reading your account I wish even more I were there to enjoy the festivities.
      Unfortunately the images are not loading here. They weren’t loading in the morning too. Will check again tomrrw..I so dont want to miss the pookalam and the sadya pics!

      Thank you again for this wonderful post,Ushus 🙂

      Deeps, sorry I missed replying to this comment when you put it in, months ago 😦 Am updating the replies, slowly, and just found a few I had missed. Thanks as always for the detailed comments, and the perspective, and the sharing 🙂 Love reading your responses too!


  7. Shankapushpam and other snaps brought good memories. Whats with Malayali ladies and their superior blogging skills!

    Glad that you found warm memories! Lol@ your observation on blogging skills!! 🙂


  8. I love pavizhamialli!! It gives out wonderful smell out!! esp early morn when it blooms. Reminds me of some of the best times I had!!!

    Meena, yes it does!


  9. There was no forcing or indoctrination… just a feeling.. a good feeling of sitting down together, and praying together. At the end of the recitation of the slokas, we would recite the names of the “nakshatras”, the stars, that each day had, and the names of the months by the Malayalam calendar. So we’d go… “Ashwathi, Bharani, Karthika, Rohini, Makeeram…. to Poororattadhi, Uttrattadi, Ravathi… Naalu Iruvathyeezhu”
    reminded me of some of my childhood days UShus when we were made to sit just like this and we would recite the same names in Hindi 😀

    Oh my… to have found resonance in these notions too !!! Awed 🙂 🙂

    Ashvini (अश्विनी) ,Bharani (भरणी) ,Krittika (क्रृत्तिका, Rohini (रोहिणी) ,Mrigashīrsha (म्रृगशीर्षा)…. dont remember all of them though 🙂
    a wonderful and evocative post Ushus 🙂

    Hmmm… so very very similar isnt it?

    and loved reading not just the post but also how Deeps has connected to it 🙂 I am sure Sols too will find so many connections here 🙂

    I know, I too was fascinated by Deeps connection to all of this 🙂 And that alone makes me glad that I did post this, delayed though it is 🙂 And yes, Sols too, waiting for her to read this one 🙂

    absolutely fascinating to read all of this 🙂
    pssst? Ushus? in my next birth I am going to be born as a Malayali 😀 😀
    ((((((((((hugs)))))))))) love you 🙂

    Awwww… 🙂 🙂 🙂 Me too thinks that anyways you are a Mallu at heart, so you will perhaps be one in another lifetime :D!!!

    PS:- I cant see a single pic Ushus 😦
    wish I could see them too .. 😦
    Oh dear…. it has not opened for some others too 😦 Lets see, this evening when I get back from school, will try and see if the problem is the posting part of it! And God Bless you and yours 🙂 Love you too!


  10. Ushus, thank you for this detailed post. Whenever you make a comeback it is always with loads of knowledge about Kerala culture and festivals. Love it! Missed you so so much. You already know that. 🙂

    When I was growing up, Mom and Dad didn’t follow many rituals. In fact I didn’t even know what a athapoo was. We had Onam celebrations with family friends and then Onam function with Malayali association. I think they had athapoo there but I never noticed as I wasn’t that interested in all that back then.

    My interest in all this generated much later. My ammamma (Dad’s mom) had lots of religious books and stories to narrate and I sat and listened to all that. All this fascinates me.

    Now don’t disappear again.

    I can fully understand when you say that! In fact, though we did celebrate many of the festivals, along with the rituals, my interest in them has become focussed only of late, after we settled in Kerala. And I too had a grandmother, who was a repository and registry of all these things!

    Lol@ the last line 🙂 I tried, but I did, and now I have popped up, better late than never 🙂 (5 April, 2010)


  11. Good comparison about onam. Very good.

    keep it up

    Thank you, Sajith!


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