Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Corporate Onam

Today was our office Onam celebration. This year a lot of malayalees could not go to Kerala for Onam due to project deadlines. So we decided that we would try and give them a semblance of the Onam celebration as it is celebrated in Kerala.

A committee was formed on the spur of the moment and lightening decisions with the help of all concerned including department heads meant that we had an elaborate Onam Celebration in our hands. And it turned out to be a grand celebration indeed with everyone pitching in.

An elaborate Onasadhya was arranged with a caterer who specializes in the same. Nowadays these caterers are in demand as most companies have Onasadhya on Onam day. So we were lucky to get this caterer. We had a Pookolam competition last year, but this year decided against it and we instead settled for a large Pookolam in the Cafeteria.

We started with the Pookolam first thing in the morning. It was a combined effort with the guys doing a much better job than the girls. They came complete with a highly technical chart of the Pookolam design and then went about the whole Pookolam design in a systematic ‘engineer’ kinda way. They cut ropes of various sizes and put them on the outline, then filled the space in between with the petals. Not very intricate like Mind Curry's but neat and clean, looked just like our glass fronted building. Someone incorporated the logo too to complete the picture…and we had the most corporate Pookolam ever :p

Me and my pal Trish, did the small Pookolam in the reception area. What it lacked in precision, it made up in design. A lamp in the centre bathed the Pookolam with it’s soft golden light. The expats in our company were the most enthusiastic lot and it was so nice to see their blond heads bent in concentration arranging the Pookolam.

A Swedish colleague Stefan came and helped me and Trish with our Pookolam and he wouldn’t get up till he felt it was picture perfect.Most memorable moment was watching Stefan cleaning up the surounding area with a broom and dust pan and shooing anyone who came within 5 feet of the Pookolam.

What stood out today was the camaraderie among the people who organized the day. There was a determination to make it as memorable as possible. The Department heads too chipped in by giving the day off for the members of the organizing committee.

Lunch was very traditional with everyone coming into the cafeteria getting the traditional sandalwood paste smeared on their forehead. One of the Teams bought mundus (lungi) for everyone in their team including the expats and it was so nice to see the full gang in traditional Kerala outfits. First time in my life I saw blond mallus. :))

As is the tradition we, i.e. mallus helped serve lunch on banana leaves as we were the hosts of the day. Our CTO an American, wore a mundu, Kerala style and served the Kaalan at the Onasadhya. It was hilarious watching him tie up his tongue into knots trying to say 'Onashamsakal’. He didn’t give up and finally managed to say it with reasonable accuracy.

There were 34 items in the Onasadhya and I think I may eat my next meal for the next Onam, I am so stuffed. By the time we sat down for our Lunch it was already 3. But that was the best part of the day. It felt really good to finish feeding the hordes and then sit down for a well deserved Onam lunch with some Malayalam songs playing in the background. It was a sight to see, a sea of people in white and gold.

This months Intranet articles was all about Onam, (cos the Intranet in Charge, me is mallu of course) and it sort of helped kick start the programme.

Unlike other festivals arranged by the Corp Comm Team, this one was very different because it had a personal touch with all of us Malayalees and some non mallus too involved in every stage. A first in the company. Our Country Head sent out a mail in the evening, saying that this was the first time that a festival had everyone in it’s grip with it’s fervour and color. Today I felt proud to be a Mallu.

Happy Onam everyone :)


Alexis Leon said...

It is nice to know that you had a blast. My Onam wishes to you and all at your organization.

bvn said...

Thats a feel good post :))...nicely done!!

bvn said...

ha ha you said "mallu blondes" - that gate crashes into the lexicon :))

Immigrant in Canada said...

Onam ahamsakal Silverine..

Jiby said...

definitely...we are all proud to be mallus...seeing on tv and specially national media the varied art forms, the unique dressing, our cuisine, and some mallus making it big gave me such a big high...i really dont blame a lot of ppl for thinking mallus are haughty!

i have always felt people outside kerala show greater fervour at onam time...coz its such a wonderful festival to connect back to our roots. i second bvn...a very feel-good post!

silverine said...

Alexis: Thank you :)

b v n: Felt good too :) "mallu blondes" as in expats wearing mundu and kasavu saree and mouthing malayalam words. There was so much curiosity about Kerala yesterday! :)

Sarah: Thank you :)

Jiby: Thank yu :) What really felt good was seeing the mallu guys mingling around without feeling shy and the fact that everyone got to know each other better. Till now, I was the only one who knew everybody, yesterday changed all that :) The general belief here is that we mallus are clanish and stick together in small groups, so it was nice to dispel that myth. I think Onam should become a community festival and not be confined to families only.

silverine said...

Jiby: "i have always felt people outside kerala show greater fervour at onam time"

I remember the Onam you organised in US last year :)

Fleiger said...

That "perfectly engineered Pookolam" was fun to read about. The guys must be from design department.

And mallu blondes? Mind wanders (and wonders too)

silverine said...

fleiger: Yes they were from the design department!! :) Mallu blondes as in the expats who wore traditional Kerala clothes.

Fleiger said...

Oh, fiction is much better than fact... I was imagining coconut-oiled blond (long) hair, mundu clad, sandalwood foreheaded girls roaming around in god's own country, and you had to do that...

Anyways, that was a nice concept to celebrate onam, including everyone in company.

Dhanush said...

Happy Onam Silverine.

Isn't it time that we remove that "mallu" tag of describing ourselves? Wouldn't be a Malayali or a Keralite better than Mallu ? :) Just some thoughts.

Same goes with a Gujju or a Bong or a Tam or anyone ?

Good to know that your comp has actively celebrated Onam. Sadly from my side there were no celebrations in the office :(

Anonymous said...

Not fair, you didn't tell me about this blog! We had the sadhya too in office. Quite nice, same caterer as yours. Pinne, what you doing tomorrow?

James Kuruvilla

emmanuel said...

the description made me so sad (sorry,not against your writing!!).
because i missed "onasadya" and also the "pookalam making sessions" this time.
as our company was having a food fest, they made kerala cuisine to coincide with thiruvonam. i thought we would get an onasadya and finally got appam, idiappam and fish curry which made my onasadya and had to be content with it......

hope u had a nice time and once more.....belated onam wishes...

Mind Curry said...

i just woke up after my big big onam sadhya three days ago :)

glad to see the spirit in your office..thats really the way forward.

Cherian said...

First time in my life I saw blond mallus. :))

hehehe,,that was great!!

i think i should start a malayalee sangam here as well!! traits never die!!

silverine said...

flieger: tsk tsk that was very heartless of me indeed :)) But don't let that stop your imagination ;)

dhanush: I don't think there is anything wrong with the word 'mallu'.

James: You barely manage to comment at I didn't want to stress you further :P

emmanual: That's sad :( You could have gone to the numerous restaurants serving Onasadhya!

mind curry: Hope your family and relations had a wonderful time at the get together you organised :)

cherian: lol it was quite a sight
You should organise yourself, that's how we managed the whole show!

venus said...

how nice! they celebrate festivals at work also, i'd love that :)

it's quite different work culture on the other side of the globe, very professional and rigid..

esvee said...

34 items..!!! Your caterer sure beats mine...we had only 23 (according to him) but we could count only 21..guess salt and the banana leaf also should be counted..!)
glad to hear your onam was a memorable one..mine was too..and i agree wholeheartedly with jiby..."people outside kerala show greater fervour at onam time"

Jeseem said...

mundu wearing CTO.
he must have been really busy ( holding on to his mundu :))
happy onam

silverine said...

venus: We celebrate quite few festivals in office :)

esvee: Guess people outside miss Kerala a lot more than people in kerala that's why :))

Jeseem: ha ha god one. I am going to rib him with that one from now on :))

Happy-Go-Lucky said...

Wow!! That was some celebration!!
Lucky You!!