Onam - Another brand-and-biz festival?


Representational Image| Photo: Mathrubhumi Archives

Yet another Onam season has arrived and the Keralites are busy making arrangements for the festivity. Things are getting easier every passing year as you just need to prepare a list and head to a supermarket.

Step out with a shopping list and giant-size flex boards and ads in glossy papers screaming ‘Onam Special” grab our attention.

Surf online, check newspapers, switch television channels -- the story is the same everywhere.

From being a harvest festival which has its roots in tradition, Onam has undergone a paradigm shift over the years. However, amidst the entire hullabaloo, the festival is losing its very soul, at least to an extent. Onam appears to be another brand-and-business carnival nowadays.

With truckloads of flowers, rice and residue-treated toxic vegetables and even banana leaves arriving from Tamil Nadu, Andhra and Karnataka, it is easy for us to sit tight and make merry.

Consumerism is swallowing us slowly. It is pretty much evident that the markets outside have seen the potential market in Kerala.

With bubbling glasses and crispy chips stuck to our hands and eyes glued to televisions sets and mobile screens, we buy, we eat, we drink, we enjoy we celebrate Onam?

May be it is the inevitability of the time. Change is a truth that traps almost everything.

A few opine that certain things are quite personal. Indeed, the perspectives on matters such as rituals, political attitude, festivals and celebrations are individual choices. These choices and tastes are evolved on the basis of the experiences one has encountered in his/her daily life. If toeing this line, it can be said that Onam too underwent that shift.

For the new generation, Onam means the day he enjoys a sumptuous meal on leaf. He is getting new clothes every now and then. Social get-togethers are common. Movies are in weekend things-to-do list. He has never experienced the thrill of collecting flowers from surroundings; never enjoyed the excitement of the time. So, he sums up Onam as ‘Meal on Leaf’ day. As time goes, this may change to the ‘day of having meal on leaf from hotel’!

An employee of a private firm in Kochi says:

“It was a working day for Thiruvaonam. It was sure that we couldn’t go home for sadya. Accordingly, we had no other go than going for a ‘private’ sadya. After a struggle, we were able to find enough seats at a hotel serving Onasadya. In fact, that was a strenuous task since bookings were almost full in most of the hotels we approached,” she said.

This happened in Kochi, a city in our own state. Need more to say?

Given the pace at which we embrace consumerism, going tech-savvy and turn brand conscious, the future trends will be even more unpredictable, no doubt.

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