Happy Onam Festival to you.

Onam in Indore

A natural flower display for Onam.                                                    Text by RR staff

It’s a very exciting weekend here in Kerala. Onam, a harvest festival, is celebrated all over Kerala regardless of caste & creed during the month of Chingam (01st month of the year in the Malayalam calendar).

In our homes, we Indians (Keralites) have a great feast like westerners have on Christmas day.  But the feast is different, as we have all vegetarian dishes rather than turkey.  The feast is called ‘Sadhya’, with a variety of about 16 dishes and then to top it all, we have the signature dish – the dessert called ‘payasam’ (3 types) also.

Most of the people (Hindus) go to the temple in the morning.  The kids go to pluck flowers from the surrounding areas near their homes and they make a flower carpet (Atthapookalam).  Children are very happy because they are the ones that benefit a lot by getting new clothes & gifts.

In Raheem Residency, we also celebrate Onam. The staff make the flower carpet & also a great feast is prepared with a variety of vegetarian dishes & payasam also. All the staff sit together, and enjoys the feast.  We include guests too in Chagara Restaurant but there is one golden rule : guests must eat like we do – that is, with no cutlery! We believe that the food tastes better when we quietly use our fingers. Our guests always enjoy the challenge.

So we take this opportunity to wish all our readers a Happy & Prosperous Onam wherever you are in Kerala.

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Happy Holi

HOLI-facebook.jpgIt’s the Festival of Holi this weekend in India. It’s particularly popular in North India and Nepal. Some children in Kerala will also celebrate it but in a more muted fashion. The real pleasure comes from throwing powdered dyes at everyone you meet. No one is spared, not even your boss!

Holi, from the Sanskrit,  marks the end of the winter, the arrival of spring and at an even deeper level the triumph of good over evil. So it’s day of great celebration, of re-newing old friendships and of huge meals! Even the separation imposed by the caste system is overlooked at Holi.

It lasts for two days starting on the Full Moon day.  Holi Eve sees the lighting of bonfires but the real fun is for the children who take great delight in being ‘naughty’ with their playful coloured dyes.

The legend behind the festival is centered around Holika, a female demon, and the sister of Hiranyakashyap, the demon king. Hiranyakashyap considered himself ruler of the Universe, and higher than all the gods.

Prahalad was the king’s son. His father hated him because Prahalad was a faithful devotee of the god Vishnu and so he decided to murder his son. But the king’s attempts at murder didn’t quite work. Prahalad was thrown over a cliff, trampled by elephants, bitten by snakes, and attacked by soldiers. But still he survived.

So the king asked his sister, Holika, who had special powers that made her immune to fires,  to kill the boy. And so she sat in the middle of a fire with the boy on her lap. Things did not go according to plan. Because she was using her special powers to do something that was inherently evil her power disappeared and she burned to death. But the lad survived and late went on to become king himself.

We, at Raheem Residency, wish you all a happy Holi.

 

 

India v Thailand. Which One 4 u?

trissur pooram

An Indian religious festival

An interesting statistic from the world of tourism.

India gets as few as 7million tourists a year and most of these are people of Indian origin living abroad and visiting family or Religious sites in India.  Indians have a strong sense of family, a concept that has been eroded in many other part of the world. And so whether they are living in New York, Australia or London an annual pilgrimage home to both family and to religious sites is a must.

Thailand is just one twentieth the size of India. Tiny in comparison, and yet it gets 27 million tourists each year. That’s in part because tourism as an industry inThailand is a lot older and more developed than in India. But you have to ask yourself do you want to come and experience a genuine Asian culture like India where you will travel to places that still maintain their native authenticity (but with some luxuries thrown in especially for you). Or do you want to find yourself in the midst of thousands of tourists in an environment that has been hugely adjusted to meet your expectations? In other words, surroundings that feel a bit more like your own home.

For a unique, cultural difference it has to be India all the way.

As someone once wrote: ‘When you arrive in India your heart sinks (the heat, the crowds). And when you leave, you leave a part of you behind’.

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                       Rap Bua festival in Thailand

Happy Harvest Fest, Kerala.

Posted by RR Staff

Aria at RR's Onam floral display

Aria at RR’s Onam floral display

It’s a very exciting weekend here in Kerala. Onam, a harvest festival, is celebrated all over the state regardless of caste & creed during the month of Chingam (01st month of the year in the Malayalam calendar).

In our homes, we Indians (Keralites) have a great feast like westerners have on Christmas day.  But the feast is different, as we have all vegetarian dishes rather than turkey.  The feast is called ‘Sadhya’, with a variety of about 16 dishes and then to top it all, we have the signature dish – the dessert called ‘payasam’ (3 types) also.

Most of the people (Hindus) go to the temple in the morning.  The kids go to pluck flowers from the surrounding areas near their homes and they make a flower carpet (Atthapookalam).  Children are very happy because they are the ones that benefit a lot by getting new clothes & gifts.

In Raheem Residency, we also celebrate Onam. The staff make the flower carpet & also a great feast is prepared with a variety of vegetarian dishes & payasam also. All the staff sit together, and enjoys the feast.

We include guests too in Chagara Restaurant but there is one golden rule : guests must eat like we do – that is, with no cutlery! We believe that the food tastes better when we quietly use our fingers. Our guests always enjoy the challenge.

So we take this opportunity to wish all our readers a Happy & Prosperous Onam wherever you are in the world.

Onam decorations in an Alleppey shop

Onam decorations in an Alleppey shop

 

 

 

Thrissur Pooram. A Kerala Fest.

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There’s only one word for the Trissur Pooram which starts today. Spectacle! And spectacle at its best. For devout Hindus it is one of the most significant religious festivals in Kerala. For tourists it is a sight never to be forgotten. And for those of us who are terrified of big crowds…well, watch it on TV.

The Trissur Pooram lasts for seven days. Indians don’t do anything by half. I particularly like the mesmerising drummers, naked to the waist and wearing the traditional dhoti. It’s called panchavadyam.

There will be lots of fireworks which bizarrely start at three in the morning and rattle on for three hours (Don’t pick a hotel nearby).

But the real stars of the show are the elephants – decorated with peacock feathers, bells and ornaments, palm leaves,paintings. Expect 30-50 of them, each with its own mahout (rider) carrying flashy temple parasols.

And now for a real gem – unlike other Indian festivals this pooram involves all religious communities. The Muslims create many of the paintings. The Christian churches contribute some of the material for the parasols.

A wonderful display of community harmony at a time when the world badly needs it.

pics drummers