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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Kootenay snowpack nearing record levels

High snowpack can mean a greater risk of flooding in spring, say forecasters

Rossland Skating Club invites the community to Year End Show

Rossland Skating Club competed in the East Kootenay Invitational Skating Competition last week

Court loss won’t affect Rossland plastic bag ban: mayor

Mayor says community is compliant, with enforceable law or not

VIDEO: Kootenay Patricks, Montreal Canadiens play to the crowd in Nelson

The charity game was a spectacle from puck drop

Grand Forks emergency shelter to be managed by Boundary Family Services

The organization got Grand Forks city council’s approval on Jan. 15

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

Most Read