Today the Malaylees around the world celebrate Onam, a traditional harvest festival. It marks the annual visit of the much loved king Mahabali (Maveli) from netherworld to see his people and we welcome him during this season with much enthusiasm by setting up Pookalams (floral carpets) and serving traditional Kerala meals, Sadhya. There are plenty of other art and dance forms connected with the Onam season but not everyone can celebrate it in the traditional way due to lifestyle changes and professional requirements.
Thanks to the boom in IT and outsourcing industry in India especially in the 4 south Indian states, among which my home state, Kerala is also a part, almost all of those who have graduated and a significant minority of the dropouts have ended up being IT professionals. Even while working 24×7 on tight deadlines with rotational shifts, they manage to celebrate Onam at least by putting Pookalams (which takes hours to complete). As the companies can’t be shut down today, a few people will have to work on this holiday and celebrate Onam the corporate way. The big fat guy with round belly among them gets dressed up as Maveli while the rest come in traditional attire. Onam Sadhya is usually sponsored by the companies for their employees but some of them are not decent enough to do so.
It’s been 5 years since I started working at Technopark, India’s first IT park and I must say that this is the first time I am celebrating a Corporate Onam. I usually stay away from these things but this time I noticed many of my colleagues putting extra effort by staying back after shift hours/coming to office on weekends) to make this Onam successful, and so I decided to help them though in a small way.
Here is the Pookalam which our team has set up in the office. We are competing against 4 other teams as part of the office-wide Onam competitions. In the middle right, is the green face of Kathakali and to its left is the Vallamkali, traditional boat race. Traditional utensils and materials connected with Onam have also been setup near the Pookalam