A few colleges in Kerala have used Onam celebration as an opportunity to show their compassion and reflect the influence of popular culture.
It is that time of the year again when women clad in traditional saris and men in mundu, sing, dance and prepare colourful pookkalam (floral carpet) on campuses. One of the best times of college life, every year, young people try to be innovative in terms of fashion and celebration mode. This year is no different. Besides the regular programmes like Onam games, competitions, pookkalam and, of course, the selfies, a few colleges in Kerala have used this as an opportunity to show their love to the world and reflect the influence of popular culture. Let’s take a look at some of the best moments from a few colleges.
Upholding the value of oneness and sharing, students and teachers of St Albert’s College, Ernakulam, celebrated their Onam with patients of Palliative Care and differently abled students. “They were brought to the campus to be a part of the festivities, and were with us throughout the day. It was an unforgettable day,” says M.L. Joseph, principal of the college. What is even more interesting is that the students prepared their sadya by themselves!
On the day before the celebration, 3000 students and 280 staff gathered at the auditorium to peel off and cut vegetables. “It was like a festival,” says Joseph. “Every year, each department organises celebrations by themselves. The lay pookkalam, conduct games and order food from outside. This time, we thought of changing it. When informed the students’ representative in each class, they were more than happy to execute it. Tasks were divided and entrusted to teams that include students and teachers. They worked hard to pull it off — from collecting money to decorating the hall and purchasing essentials,” says Joseph.
They amassed `4 lakh. But, they didn’t require such massive amount for a celebration. The surplus amount, they have decided to donate for the welfare of flood-affected families that find it difficult to celebrate Onam. The college was one of the camps during the 2018 floods. “We are planning to give an Onam kit worth `1000 to 200 flood-affected families in the Ernakulam area on Saturday.”
The Sacred Heart College, Thevara, the first age-friendly campus in Kerala, witnessed the young and old coming together for celebration. For the day, the old students took part in all programmes forgetting their age-related issues. They, dressed in traditional attire, danced, sang and played musical chair and tug of war, in the company of young ones. “There were 70 aged students (mostly above 55 years) and 230 young ones. While uncles performed vanchipattu, aunties did thiruvathira, cheered by their young conunterparts,” says Abin from the campus.
If Nivin Pauly-starrer Premam caught the fancy of college students in 2015, this year it was debutant Girish A.D.’s Thanneermathan Dinangal. Among the many students who recreated Nivin Pauly’s black shirt-white mundu combination with black goggles look, the photo of students of St Teresa’s College, Ernakulam, in that costume went viral. This year, following the surprising success of the movie Thanneermathan Dinangal, a group of students in S.N. College, Kollam, came sporting watermelon-printed shirts to the campus. Girish A.D. shared the image on his Facebook page.
Festivities at St Teresa’s College, Ernakulam, too kept society in mind. Dr Jisha John, assistant professor and student dean of the college union, says the celebration inaugurated by actress Rajisha Vijayan was a socially responsible one. “The inaugural speeches had ‘change’ as the theme. While our principal stressed on the need to change our attitude towards environment quoting the recent floods, Rajisha, whose recent film Finals talk about women empowerment, focused on women being torch-bearers of change,” says Jisha. The venue also had performances by students of Sneha Nilayam Special School. Students of the Bharatanatyam department of the college paid tribute to the teachers as the event took place on Teacher’s Day. “Also, the union launched its eco-friendly and community service future plans under the campaign Swa Karthavya at the venue. Around 500 eco-friendly pens made by a physically-challenged student were sold at the venue, proceeds from which will be returned to her.”
At SCMS College, an Onam carnival was held where traditional artforms like theyyam were performed.