The wheeling of the seasons evokes the whole human seasonal cycle, germination, growth, decay, death, and rebirth. but Chingam or Onam season realizes the spirit with marvellous concreteness and richness in the most natural ways. We may never feel it as mere repetition or as an artificial occurrence.
.By the month of Chingam, the southwest monsoon withdraws and smoothes suffused with flowery expectations. The nights are clear with a few wispy white clouds with short spells of sharp, glittering sunshine that thrilled people snatch to come outside to deck the Onam days.
In the month of Chingam, we have much more long spells to play outdoor. Slanting silver threads of intermittent rain, drizzles refresh us. The hedges laced with moss, had grown soft, and bulged a little with dampness that seeped up and we play there.
On them debauched gloriosa hung and breathed to flutter in the fruity air. Over the undergrowth the Onam dragonflies hover.The countryside turns an unnatural green. Boundaries blur as Thumpas take root and bloom. Hedges turn moss green. Wild vines snake up the dark shaded trees. Kannanthalies burst through laterite banks and spill across flooded roads. Thumpas spring up and blooms flowery syllables in the Onam wind.
Onam is the state festival of Kerala. The festival has been prevailing in the Kerala community since time immemorial Onam was celebrated throughout South India during the Sangham period.”Madhuraikanchi” of ”Pathupattu” holds the references of Onam celebrations.
The myth of incarnation of Vamana is the background of the Onam festival. Thrikkakarayappan is made of mud and worshipped throughout Kerala during Onam season.
A myth related to the Kerala king Mahabali and the annual visit of Mahabali from the other world to see his former subjects is considered as the origin of Onam.
As we say each month may be conceived as a separate unit of time. But it is the evolution of Karkitakam. Karkitakam it is the time planning period for Onam. Karkidakam along with sun and rain plan how to spread the sky of Chingam..how to fill the spikes of rice with more milk filled grains and make them bend and blessed are the farmers who ..pick a few spikes of rice corn on auspicious time and decorate their dwelling. It is” Nira puthiri ” day.’
Farmers feel that prosperity and fullness will never cease. Its a continuing state of affairs. Karkitakam plans how to fruit the plantains groves to fill the banana cells with honey and mellow fruit fullness.
How to shade the corners of Kannanthali eyes with dark violet turning it the murmurous haunt of flies on Onam eves. How to hold together more pristine Thumpa blossoms in the dense terminals. How to set budding more and more and still more and that we feel that the reign of flowers will never cease. The flood of Thumpa flowers may sweep away the pain.
If Atham is overcast..thiruvonam will be a sunny day. Asarichi Ammu may gift us with a small screw pine bag called Pookkunda We get off at the crack of dawn darting straight to the spot where thumpa groves begin at the canal ridge ..so that we should outshine others..the early birds pluck the flower.
.The canal ridge is usually decked with Lexus Aspera or Ari thumpa. Chakka thumpa or Lucas Cephalotus is a rare occurrence there. Arithumpa is not easy to pinch out and fill .the Pookkunda..it needs strange skill..the plucking of flowers under the canopy of an aromatic smell and singing the songs collectively and loudly !!It’s really a surrealist experience..that created a world of mysterious purity and undefinable pleasure.
The drizzle of rain was like a veil over the world, mysterious, hushed, not cold. ‘The space around”” Thottuvarampu “” was silent, still and secret in the morning drizzle of rain, full of the mystery of half-open buds, half unsheathed flowers. In the dimness of the drizzle all the trees blanketed thin fog as if they were whispering each other. and the green things on earth seemed to hum with green-Always a hush descended over us even in the song. The spores of children, sprouted over the earth, green and contented. They came to Onam valley to gather flowers.
The Kumkuma tree stood alone—efflorescent, serene. The flower-gatherers reached out, tried stretching arms in vain. the premordial Kumkuma tree held down a soft twig to pluck the flowers. Onam is nothing but the Edenic pleasure of innocent flower gathers. They remain in the festive spirit completely immersed.
.Thekkekkara Vadakkekkara Kannanthali muttathoru ..” thumpa mulachu..
” We sang in chorus and sat near thumpa bushes and filled our pookkundas. It says either in Thekkekkara ,the northern bank of rice field or in the southern bank..once a thumpa came up in the courtyard of Kannanthali.
The Onam wind being the prime mover in nature is now wiggling the well-ripened rows of rice stalks that are curvy under the weight of their cobs.
The Onam wind is sweeping the Balsam clumps lantana bushes and that are hanging down loosely under the weight of their rain-drenched flowers. Ultimately it is vehemently wriggling the hearts of every Malayali filling with festive spirit with his lilting breezing and lively freshness.
The banana plantains leaning over heavy with supported by strong bamboo poles.The mature banana bunch will be covered with dry Banana leaves to save them from the swarming green parrots that spring in Onam season .The tide of green parrots perched on them bore the fruits further and further.
The parrots relish on the upper hand bananas .The dry leaf-covered banana bunches stood in a row baring their curved peduncle. On Atham day the plantain groves will be bustled with transactions, emptying the banana plantain plot by the noon.
In our village we gather flowers till Uthradam day.On Moolam day grandma used to say..today you need more thumpappoo, as much as the volume of luxuriant hair of maidens. On Moolam Day we need …” mudiyolam
…poovu.” Thus goes adage
On pooradam dayafter the lunch women start frying banana chips round first later on the quarter chips..some years they prepared banana chips in candy ..thtscin jaggery..it is called ”sharkkara upperi ”in Malayalam. Most of the pickles will be ready by then.
Men may start playing cards. Twenty-eight was the popular game..if played between six members that may go on till the sunset. Some of them go to Ponnani Pooradavanibham..that was held at Amshakkachery on the way to Ponnani.
The men never forgot to prepare the mud for sculpturing Thrikkakarayappan on Uthradam day morning..the earth is loosened removed gravels and impurities, then doughed it..and balled out into seven spheres less than half the size of a football.
In complete continued in Onam 2
Note kumkuma .. frangipani tree