Participants in Castlegar's Onam festival created a beautiful floral display.

Students bring a bit of India to Castlegar by celebrating the festival of Onam

A group of Selkirk College students from India arranged a celebration of the festival of Onam last week.

A group of Selkirk College students from India arranged a celebration of the festival of Onam last week. About 50 people, including students, faculty and families, some from as far as Nelson, gathered to celebrate the harvest festival that has its roots in the province of Kerala, India.

Onam commemorates the homecoming of King Mahabali. The festival is unique in that it is state festival celebrated by all religions and castes. It is believed that King Mahabali is so attached to his kingdom, that he returns from the nether world once a year to see his people. Mahabali was known for his generous rule and the people show their appreciation by decorating with carpet style floral arrangements, called Pookalam, and wearing new clothes in order to show him that prosperity and happiness are alive in his kingdom.

The festival is so dear to the heart of people from Kerala that it is celebrated all around the world wherever they currently reside.

The local celebration included a feast, which was provided potluck style. The food was so abundant that after the event was over organizers shared the leftovers with residents of the college dorms.

Organizer Jijith Haridas, like many of the other international students at Selkirk, is from the province of Kerala. Haradas acknowledged that missing home can be a problem for the students. “That is one of the key reasons why I decided to throw this festival,” he said. “So the people that are so far from home can feel a little bit comfortable and happy celebrating something that is close to them.” Another reason for the festival was “to tell the Canadian friends, students and faculty that came to the festival — to help them get an understanding of the cultural background and have a cultural exchange with the people of Canada,” explained Haradas.

One example of that cultural exchange is that the drawing for the traditional Pookalam flower carpet was done by a Canadian, but the arranging of the flowers was done by Indians.

Haridas was very pleased with how the event turned out. “Everyone got to know more and was happy to understand some of the background of the country where many students come from — it was a real international exchange,” he said.

Just Posted

Rossland’s Seven Summits school gets grant to grow global presence

Centre for Learning hopes to triple the number of international students it has

Rural dividend grants awarded in Kootenay West

Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy made the grant announcements in Trail on Thursday

Rossland skiier places third at U19 Canadian Ski Cross

Rossland’s Sage Stefani finished out a successful season.

Warfield elementary school celebrating 70 years

Webster Elementary School officially opened April 23, 1949; open house and events planned next week

Patients thank Kootenay Boundary doctor

Dr. Scheepers’ patients thanked him for the gift of restoring their sight

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Bodies of 3 mountain climbers recovered after last week’s Banff avalanche

The men disappeared while attempting to climb the east face of Howse Peak in the Icefields Parkway

Happy birthday: Queen Elizabeth II turns 93 on Easter Sunday

Sunday is the first of two birthday celebrations each year for the queen

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Most Read