By Sajeev K Peter
KUWAIT: A spectacular cultural show, colorful pageantry and a traditional feast highlighted the Indian Embassy’s Onam celebration, held on September 1 as part of the state facilitation event on the southern Indian state of Kerala. A large number of people including Kuwaiti dignitaries, diplomats and members of the Indian diaspora joined the embassy in celebrating Kerala’s biggest festival, reflecting the rich cultural traditions of the state.
Extending warm greetings to all on the occasion, Indian Ambassador Sibi George said: “Onam is a special occasion for the Indian community in Kuwait. Over the years, Onam has become one of the most-celebrated and most-awaited festivals of India in Kuwait, not only by the Indian community, but also by many Kuwaitis.”
The ambassador pointed out that even during the last two years, despite the challenges of the pandemic, Onam was celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm among families and in smaller groups, and virtually too. He congratulated all Indian associations and groups for putting in efforts to celebrate India in Kuwait through hundreds of events.
“The embassy extends all support to their activities in their endeavors to celebrate India and in their efforts to contribute in further strengthening our vibrant relations with this friendly country,” he added. “By celebrating Onam, we are celebrating our history, our civilizational ethos, our family values and above all the spirit of ‘Vasudaiva Kudumbakam’ (The World is One Family),” he remarked.
In his concluding remarks, the ambassador spoke about the cultural legacy and classical art forms of Kerala, from Kathakali to the martial art of Kalari Payattu, which make Kerala unique, and the role Kerala is playing today towards the well-being of the world through the healing touch of Ayurveda. He invited Kuwaiti friends to include Kerala on their next itinerary to India along with other sought-after destinations like Delhi, Goa, Agra and Jaipur.
“Visiting Kerala is a unique experience, since it is the place where West met the East, where history was made, where the world came to shop, where St Thomas came to introduce Christianity, where the Cheraman Juma Mosque was built in 629 CE, which makes it the first mosque in India,” he said. The ambassador felicitated the winners of a quiz competition that was held during the event.
Earlier, an impressive Onam procession took off from the forecourt of the embassy to the auditorium, which was led by the mythical King Mahabali and accompanied by a group of Chenda players, tiger dancers and performers. An intricate and giant floral decoration (pookkalam) was laid out on the forecourt to mark the occasion.
The members of the executive committee of Indian Business Promotion Council (IBPC), Friends of Kannur Expats (FOKE), Anjali School of Dance, Srishti School of Classical Dance and Indian community members staged a variety of cultural programs. Performances of classical dance forms like Mohiniyattam, Kerala Nadanam, semi-classical numbers and Onam songs enthralled the audience. The classical dance performance of Kathakali, a 400-year-old art form from renowned ‘Kalyana Sougandhikam’ by brilliant actor Jaikrishnan, captivated the audience.
A detailed tailor-made video highlighting trade opportunities, tourism potential and technological prowess of Kerala was showcased during the event. The highlight and the finale of the celebration was the traditional Onam feast (Onasadya), a sumptuous Kerala meal comprising over 20 items, which was served to the guests on fresh plantain leaves.