RSS Feed

Maveli Naadu Vaaneedum Kaalam…


Like every other Malayali, I too have my bundle of cliché’d memories. The images and nostalgia have been done to death I know, but well, its Onam after all, and I hope you do not mind indulging me here as I open up the pomegranate of my memory to scatter some sweet gems that take me down the winding paths of my mind to a small town nestling at the foot of the Western Ghats, down south, all the way near the three seas…
My family had always been big on celebrating Onam and some pictures stand crystal clear in my mind like carrots gleaming bright orange in a serving of avial.The swing on the mango tree with an ‘ulakka’ for a seat. It stayed on well past Deepavali, till the rope got so frayed from all the swinging. It came down only when the battered rope finally gave up its ghost and someone landed hard on their bottom.

The athappookkalams, which were always well begun. We lost steam half way through and the result was a hastily finished sorry looking pookkalam. But the pookkalams we laid out in college for the inter-department contests stay fresher in memory as did the flowers.

The happy mess that the kitchen became on the night of Uthradam in preparation for the Onasadhya the next day. The snowy mounds of freshly grated coconut on bright green banana leaves waiting their turn to transform into avial, thoran, kichadi and coconut milk for the next day’s payasam. It was one of those rare occasions when I saw the menfolk hang around in the kitchen, I don’t remember what exactly they did, but they were there.

Not that I helped much, being the kid in the family, other than being everyone’s errand girl or babysitting my nephews and nieces, but I loved being around everyone. Hearing the latest social developments and filmi gossip. Singing along with them those beautiful,evergreen Mallu songs. Somehow the deliciously sour green mangoes being finely chopped for the mangacurry always managed to make a disappearing act between the knife and the bowl.

The highlight of the cooking the next day was of course making the payasam in a huge, makeshift wood burning stove outdoors and everyone taking turns to stir the huge uruli of payasam. Getting the adapayasam just right was an art in itself.

After all the work was done, my mother saw to it that the house was spanking clean before she went to bed on the eve of Onam. All the remnants of the vegetables in the kitchen swept away, no inauspicious objects like shoes, brooms or dirty dishes anywhere in sight.

The gleaming brass lamp in the pooja room, with a brand new manjakkodi mundu around its stem, lit on Uthradam evening, which my mom made sure stayed lit all night through.Everything was set to welcome the Malayali’s favorite King on his annual visit.

Maveli Mannan

The sleepless night when I could barely sleep from all the excitement of getting to wear all those Onakkodis the next day and moments of fitful sleep when I thought I heard the gentle footfalls of a methiyadi…

Somewhere along the way, Onam lost its charm and turned into just another day… a bothersome day actually when I had to make a sadhya. It became a chore rather than a labor of love and everything seemed to have lost its significance. I seemed to be doing everything out of a sense of guilt or obligation. Till a couple of years back… when I realised that I was depriving my children of their share of the sweet pomegranate. Things changed with that realisation.

In the midst of running around to find the right costume for the kids’ dance at the Mallu Association Onam celebration, I did manage to infuse some Onam spirit into my girls, even if it meant I had to make up my own Onam related words to the tune of ‘On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…’ before I taught them Maveli naadu vaaneedum kaalam…

tastes just as good

Our sadhya might be dinner and not lunch anymore since the local public schools do not have ‘Onam’ in their list of holidays; we might eat the sadhya off paper vazhayilas at best or scoop payasam out of Styrofoam cups; the coconut milk for our payasam might come from cans and the uzhunnuvadas for our kootu curry from a frozen box; our pookkalams may not have thumbappoo or kakka poo, but daisies and petunias look just as beautiful in a pookkalam; living in a house made of wood might stop me from leaving my lamp lit and unattended all night long… but I am quite sure that Maveli can still find his way to us and in the dead of the night, if I listen carefully, I would hear once again, the soft footfalls of the methiyadi.

Happy Onam to everyone everywhere who is Mallu by heart!

Read as originally posted here on


4 responses »

  1. Pingback: Saying it with Flowers on Onam | pins & ashes

  2. Pingback: Saying it with Flowers on Onam | Pins N Ashes

  3. Nice one………….. & Wish u A Happu Onam…………


  4. Pingback: The Ten Days of Onam « Kurukshetra

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: