...says actor Asin, who'll be celebrating the harvest festival like every other Keralite today
For the Kerala born actor Asin, Onam is one of the big festivals that she celebrates with gusto. The actor, whose childhood and schooling was in Kerala, gets very excited with the very thought of the harvest festival. Though a busy schedule has kept her away from her home in recent years, she tries to spend the day with family in Mumbai, if not Kerala. "It gets difficult to celebrate festivals when you have a packed shooting schedule. Even this time, the chances of spending the day with my family seemed bleak as I'm stationed in Rajasthan till October, but fortunately I managed to get two days off around Onam. So I flew down to Mumbai on Tiruonam (main festival) today to spend the day with my parents. My mom will be cooking up a feast and I'm looking forward to polishing it all off" she smiles. Asin has a lot of pleasant memories associated with Onam, the biggest festival in Kerala. She says, "Very few festivals are celebrated in Kerala, but Onam celebrations are really grand. All my school friends would come over during Onam for Onasadhya (feast). The highlight of the festival is obviously the vegetarian food spread, but the dessert, payasam, is the best part of it. Known as the King of sweets, payasam (kheer) is my most favourite dessert." "It's also a day when family members from far and near come visiting. The ladies in the household would prepare the feast and serve it on banana leaf. Girls dressed up in their pat-pavadas (silk skirts), women in their onakodi (a traditional ivory and gold border sarees) and men in their mundus ( lungi)," Asin continues. "However, the best part of the day was when Maveli (King Mahabali) came visiting (a la Santa Claus) his subjects' homes." She has fond memories of preparing to welcome Maveli home. "He would be welcomed with a flower carpet known as the Athapookalam. As kids we would head out early in the morning with our baskets to collect flowers to make the carpet. It used to be so much fun," she recalls. The one thing Asin never forgets to do on Onam is call up her childhood friends. "All my school friends are spread across the globe. So, on this day, we connect on conference call and do some catching up," she reveals. The actor plans to do some Malayalam channel surfing with her parents as well. "The channels will have some special Onam programmes. I don't want to miss on tiruvadarakali (traditional dance) — with women dancing around a vessel filled with rice. It symbolises prosperity," she expains.