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

Drug use a problem at Trail hockey games, warn RCMP

Police recommend changes to Trail Memorial Centre washrooms

Castlegar, Grand Forks areas to see cleaner winter roads under new contract

YRB set to take over 10-year maintenance contract on Monday

Castlegar walk raises thousands for local Alzheimer’s support

Castle Wood Village fundraiser shows astounding support in community, organizers say

IRM reports small sulphuric acid leak at Waneta reload

IRM states a small volume of less than one cup and three dime-sized drips were leaked from carrier

VIDEO: SPCA ushers in new era with Castlegar facility

$2.69-million project had ribbon cutting on Friday

VIDEO: SPCA ushers in new era with Castlegar facility

$2.69-million project had ribbon cutting on Friday

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

B.C. woman donates $250,000 to ovarian cancer research for friends

Two of Patty Pitts’s friends passed away from the disease within a year

B.C. could provide clues as to how New Brunswick electoral results shake out

Premier Christy Clark faced a strikingly similar scenario following the province’s 2017 election

Most Read