MY FIRST ONAM IN PUNE

I learnt that culture, language or region do not create bonds

14th September, 2016, a day that I’ll remember for a long time. Months of anticipation and hard work had managed to bring me to this institution, but “what next?” was a question that was daunting me every single day. Will I survive college just fine? I didn’t know. Being a south Indian in a Non-south state is as scary as it is prestigious. Leaving idli and aviyal for rajma chawal and tawa veg was no easy task. It was already challenging to survive in a Hindi/Marathi speaking state, let alone celebrating the festival that was a huge part of my life.

Onam was the first day that satisfied my quench for being South Indian in my new city. Onam is a major festival back home in Kerala. Little did I know, when I read the mail letting us dress up for the festival, that the campus would put in so much of effort to help and create a similar environment? The day started off with a lot of meeting and greeting among the students. All of us were beautifully dressed in a festive way for probably the first time on campus. It was fun clicking plenty of pictures and complimenting each other. We had three economics lectures and two practical classes scheduled for the day.

The day was going quite well, when before lunch we were called to make Athapookalam.  Athapookalam is a typical flower mandala design which is made during Onam to welcome the homecoming of the beloved king Mahabali. The college had clearly put in a lot of effort into buying the flowers and arranging for other requirements. The problem was that we were informed about the competition only an hour before the deadline while the Design and Management students had started off with their designs much earlier. Five of us readily started with the floral arrangement. In half an hour, we had people all over our allotted slot. While few of them were peeling the petals, the others were busy segregating the colours, designing the mandala and filling up the beautiful circle. All of this was being accompanied with popular Malayalam songs being played in the background. It was extremely exciting to be a part of the celebration which included people contributing in all possible ways, not keeping their varied cultures and religions in mind. We won the third price which we are pretty proud of, given that there were only three entries. But it wasn’t about winning. It was about the fun that we had as a batch or rather about being a family. The Onam celebrations was complete with a Sadhya which was provided to us a day later in the hostel. Sadhya is a typical Kerala meal which usually consists of a variety of dishes, ranging anywhere between 24 to 68 items. The hostel meal was a pretty good makeover of the original Sadhya.

The day ended with stronger bonds and a happier I. Giving good education is one thing but providing a family away from home and making sure that we don’t miss on all the fun and games is a different thing altogether. Symbiosis has successfully accomplished this task. It stays true to its motto of providing a home away from home. Every day is a learning experience. On my first on-campus Onam, I learnt that culture, language or region do not create bonds. If the world were to work that way then I wouldn’t have been writing about my first Onam in this article, because it was not the flower rangoli or the set saree that defined that day. It was the fun that we had as a family, the effort we put in together and the memories and the bonds that we made which made that day special.

 

Article by: Swetha Pillai (Batch 2019)

Photograph by: Swetha Pillai (Batch 2019)

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