x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Keralan celebrations toned down out of respect for fast

The 10-day Onam festival, which began yesterday, got off to a low-key start without the daytime feasts traditionally held in India.

It was a low-key start to Onam for Indian expatriates in the UAE yesterday, with many postponing plans to mark the harvest festival until the weekend or later. The 10-day festival, which includes much feasting during the day, is revered by Keralites regardless of their religion. But there was little festivity yesterday as many people were working, and also out of respect for those fasting during Ramadan. Instead, some cultural events to mark the festival will take place after Eid.

"We want to respect local traditions," said KB Murali, president of the Kerala Social Centre in Abu Dhabi. "Usually families invite friends, family and neighbours, but if your friends and neighbours are fasting you cannot invite them, so it is a very dull affair." While families held private dinners, some restaurants in Abu Dhabi and Dubai sold special Onam takeaway lunches, and were reporting good business.

The Abu Dhabi Malayalee Samajam, a Keralan cultural centre, has postponed its celebration of Onam until after Eid. The Kerala Social Centre is planning to cater for more than 2,500 people on October 2 with an Onam lunch. sbhattacharya@thenational.ae pmenon@thenational.ae