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 :)