How Onam is celebrated in engineering colleges in Kerala

Wondering how Onam is celebrated in a typical engineering college by students in Kerala? You might be familiar with the general idea of Onam celebrations. Read this article to find if it is same in Engineering colleges or what more fun and frolic is there. Get a quick first-hand insight on it from this article.

Are you one of those who are still dumbfounded, by the sudden surge in your Facebook newsfeed, with images of your engineering college friends, in dresses you have never seen them wearing before, posing alongside a potbellied kid with a huge moustache that doesn't fit him? Or else you may be wondering how your daughter's first Onam would be like at her engineering college. In any case, you have come to the right place.

Onam, the state festival of Kerala, is in itself a quite popular one. As most of you are familiar with it, I'll not dig in. But being an engineering student myself I can give you a first-hand view of how the Onam celebration differs when it comes to engineering colleges.

Celebrating Onam, the Engineer's way:

Onam celebrations held in any of theengineering colleges in Kerala would more or less resemble a T20 match. The old folks, who love the traditional style of celebrating Onam, would surely find it difficult to digest the mere fact that a festival, which spans over 10 days, is being celebrated in just a single day. How'll you ever find any enjoyment in such a celebration? But that's exactly what engineering colleges do! They somehow package every fun aspect of the festival within just 8 hours.

Celebrating Onam before Onam

The one thing which engineering colleges have more to than any other college is exams. The students and management would be equally in a fix while choosing the date for the Onam celebration, with exams, vacation and Onam festival looming near. This generally results in Onam celebration being held on the last working day, just before the Onam vacation begins. This sadly, leaves only a window of few hours for the preparation.

How engineering colleges prepare for the Onam celebration

The weeklong planning:
The preparation time has nothing to do with laziness or lack of skill in planning. It has everything to do with exams. The student's union ( the student representatives who usually lead the planning and execution of collegiate events ) and the teachers have to juggle between the exam and Onam celebration preparation. It becomes really difficult to sneak in a couple of hours between exams just for this. Committees are formed to plan and handle each tiny aspect of the event. Everything ranging from food, sponsoring, funds, programmes, decorations and prizes are sketched out during this period.

Getting funds:
This varies among colleges. Some engineering colleges have management with a warm heart while most others have to look for sponsors. But nonetheless, a significant share of the cost is bore by the students themselves. If you were to scout an engineering college before Onam celebration, you could easily spot a few 'fund collectors' informally pleading funds for the Onam celebration.

One of the most important aspects of Onam celebration in engineering colleges is the way the decoration is done. Each department does its decoration by itself and it must be quite different from the rest. It seems as if each department is fighting it out. The students and teachers alike wait till the wee hours in the night to complete the decoration.
Onam celebration in engineering colleges, unlike others, isn't all about flowers. You mustn't be surprised if you find the campus decorated by anything but flowers. While mechanical engineering department uses gears, springs and other mechanical parts in their Onam Pookalam ( flower carpet created during Onam celebrations ), you can see bulbs being lit up to read Onam Aashamsakal ( Onam Greetings ) signifying that it's a creation of electrical & electronics department. Irrespective of the department, the cherry on the cake is usually reserved for the next day.

What to wear for the Onam celebration was already a problem. But the invisible urge to stand out from the rest leads to dress code for each department. Some engineering colleges even have their management laying out clear rules on dress code, thus further reducing the options to wear. The last few days before the D-day, Whatsapp groups start to inundate with heavy discussions on what colour to choose, what type of material, the type of design and even whether entire class must sport aviators or not!

The day of Onam celebration

You know the celebrations of the day have begun when you see a grand procession coming towards the campus gate. The procession is usually led by an army of cars and bikes carrying students of all departments, obviously in their dress codes, honking their way to the campus. Following this is a band of drummers and chenda artists. The Pulikali team is just behind them, entertaining everyone along the way. Behind all this ordered chaos, slowly comes the Maveli, who is usually the most potbellied guy in the campus, carrying the traditional attire and umbrella. The traditional part comes to end with the Maveli being welcomed into the campus through thalapoli. Amidst the Aarppvili, you can also hear some spirited final years shouting out the department songs.
Onam celebration also includes a battery of traditional games like Vadamvali, Uriyadi, Onathallu, lemon-spoon race etc happening across the campus grounds while competitions like Pookalam Malsaram, Malayali Manka etc happen in the classrooms.

Stalls run by groups of students, usually hostelers, are set up across the campus, providing cheap yet unique refreshments and snacks to everyone attending the event. These are even a partial source of recovering the Onam fund.

Onam Sadya:
Besides food stalls, the main attraction and important aspect of the Onam celebration is the Onam Sadya itself. This is one of the few days wherein engineering students get a chance to be pampered and served by the teachers. Engineering colleges are now preferring to outsource the catering for the Onam celebration and opt for paper based plates rather than the traditional banana leaves. Given this fact, still the Onam sadya is usually a treat for the students who are used to their hostel mess or canteen food.

Other specialities:
Onam celebration in engineering college is never complete without clicking selfies with the poor maveli He has to pose for countless of those!) . Next you have the department groupfies. Then photos taken using DSLR, photos with shades, photos without them…The list just goes on. How else would they flaunt the themselves in saree, which they took hours to just get in shape, or those coloured dhotis that always seem to fall off while dancing to the tunes of the chenda.

In most groups, you can easily spot the few odd ones who forget to wear the traditional dress code they had agreed upon. Luckily for them, there are stalls set up in the campus to sell traditional dresses also.

A final word on the Onam celebrations in Engineering colleges in Kerala

Amidst this fun and revelry, we can spot a few good social initiatives. As a part of Onam celebration, engineering colleges are now taking up campaigns like planting 1000 saplings, feeding the old and poor etc. While applauding this nice aspect of the Onam celebration in engineering colleges, we must also be aware and avoid the shocking accidents (like the CET Jeep accident) that unfortunately occur as a result of uncontrolled celebration.

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Author: K Mohan19 Sep 2016 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 0

It is good to learn from this sharing that engineering colleges in Kerala are also concerned and participate in the state festival of Onam and lots of work goes to make the festival successful with great fervor and involvement. Normally we have seen that Engineering students group to make a certain project and that would become successful with constructive efforts of like minded students from other colleges too. But for the first time I am coming across the fact that Engineering colleges in Kerala are vying for each other in competition spirit to excel and take the Onam celebrations to the next level which was not expected at all. Good attitude.

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