Malayalee Association of Southern Connecticut (MASCONN) organized its annual Onam celebrations at Madison Middle School, Trumbull, CT on Saturday, September 17th, 2022.
Attended by nearly 250 people, the long awaited Onam celebrations brought together the fast growing community of people of Kerala origin from across the state of Connecticut to celebrate their culture, traditions, and fellowship.
The day long Onam celebrations began with the lighting of the traditional Nailavilakku or the lamp by honored guests of MASCONN and the executive committee members of MASCONN, including, Tijo Josh, President; Sreejith Mambarambath, Vice President; Giby, Vice President; Veena Ramesh, Secretary; Reshmi Parakkal, Joint Secretary; and, Jacob Mathew, Treasurer; and members of the Board of Directors: Sujanan TP, Anitha Nair, Aswathy Rajeevan, Jose Kalarikkal, Kaushik Prakash, Prince Lal, Roy Sebastian, Sofia Salim, and Sudhi Balan. Kids Club President Lakshmi S Nair introduced the members of the Club and announced of the planned Blood Drive in collaboration with the local RED CROSS on October 4th.
The chief guests who graced the event and shared their Onam greetings and message included, Connecticut State Assemblyman Harry Arora and Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox, a candidate for CT State Assembly representing Trumbull. Both Mr. Arora and Ms. Gadkar-Wilcox urged the Indian community to come out and vote on November 8th and at every election cycle to make the voice of the Indian Americans heard on the corridors of power. They, later on volunteered and served food to the participants at the Onam Sandhya.
A colorful Pookoalm and the traditional lamp with a sandalwood tilak on forehead at the entrance of the school, welcomed the participants with a warm traditional Indian welcome. Legendary King Mahabali was given a traditional welcome as he mingled with the participants showering his blessings.
Earlier the legendary King Mahbali was welcomed on to the state in a procession led by children and women, including Veena, Aswathy, Nimmi, Roniya, Avani, Deepa, Hency, and Shreya, who set the stage for the Onam celebrations with their beautiful performance of Thiruvathirakali.
“MASCONN an offshoot of the natural growth of the Indian-American especially Malayalee Community in the southern Connecticut region,” said Tijo Josh, President of MASCON, in his welcome address. He led the participants to a moment of silence praying for those who lost their lives due to Covid and honoring those healthcare professionals who worked bravely to save the lives of those who were affected by the deadly virus. Tijo praised the Masconn Youth Group and the executive committee and the members for their dedication.
Eloquently emceed by Clarence Xavier and Mini Ajay, who explained the story behind this cultural festival of Kerala, a southern Indian state. “Onam awaits one very special visitor, Kerala’s most loved legendary King Maveli. He is the King who once gave the people a golden era in Kerala. The King is so much attached to his kingdom that it is believed that he comes annually from the nether world to see his people living happily. It is in honor of King Mahabali, affectionately called Onathappan, that Onam is celebrated,” Mini Ajay said.
The whole ambience was filled with nostalgia since it was an occasion for all the Malayalees in Connecticut to cherish their childhood memories, especially everyone enjoyed the sumptuous Onam Sadhya (meal), the most important and main attraction of the day with different traditional dishes and payasam that was served on banana leaves.
For the 1st time, MASCONN organized Onachamayam photo contest was held for Malayalee Manga and Family Chamayam photo contest and winners were awarded. The winners of the Chess and Cards Games were recognized with trophies.
In his Onam message, Mahabali told the audience that the “beauty of the festival lies in its secular fabric. People of all religions, castes and communities celebrate the festival with equal joy and verve. Onam also helps to create an atmosphere of peace and brotherhood by way of various team sports organized on the day,” he added. Sreejith Mambarambath and Jaya Giby, Vice Presidents of MASCONN proposed vote of thanks, while thanking all the organizers for the great event they had worked so hard to put together.
Participants were dressed in their traditional attire. The most traditional costume for the men of Kerala is the “Mundu” which is mostly white in color. It is worn tightly at the waist with a knot and comes down till the feet. Women following Hinduism wear a blouse and mundu known as “Mundu neriyathu.” Children were seen elegantly in mundus, shirts, sarees and salwar.
The celebration of Onam festival provides them with a perfect opportunity to encourage the new generation of children of Indian origin to witness, learn and appreciate these rich traditions, even while it offers the first generation NRIs to stay connected and cherish the rich cultural heritage they hold so dear to them.
Living in countries that are far away from their homeland, in the midst of different cultures, busy with the day-to-day mundane work and home tasks, the Non Resident Indian (NRI) community made this “land of opportunities” their home, have brought with them these cultural traditions and have sought to pass them on to their children, who are often born and raised here.
Onam is a festival celebrated in the south-western state of Kerala, India. Keralites or the Malayalees, the illustrious people of the beautiful state are known around the world for their hard work and spirit of adventure, celebrate the festival of Onam wherever they are.
Malayalee Association of Southern Connecticut (MASCONN) which was formed a dozen years ago, the cultural extravaganza was in many ways “reliving the culture and traditions” and “cherishing the past with a view to pass it on to the future generation.”