I had then missed out on the party due to mostly my lethargy, but also because several restaurants had run out by the time I reached there after work.
Courtesy a friend who called, I pulled out all stops to be among the thousands who gathered at the Indian Club, Bahrain and a part of the celebrations, where the vegetarian meal, consisting of 26 items, is served on banana leaf.
I was accorded special treatment, being the “odd” participant, and even had papadam served twice just because I had polished the first one off before the rice had “arrived”!
It was also an occasion to meet up with Mahabali (albeit the namesake), the legendary king, who was present to bless the gathering. He happily posed with me for a photograph, even commenting on the fancy mobile I carried.
Just for the record, it is said, Kerala’s golden period was during the glorious reign of Mahabali a long time ago when there was no sorrow or hunger. It is also said no one lied, no doors were locked and even plucking a leaf or a flower was considered a sin.
Also for the record, Mahabali is Kerala’s version of Santa Claus, complete with a cute bulging tummy and constant smile. The striking difference being the “Mahabali” has to have a genuine pot belly since it is not covered.
Back to the present, it was entirely a most satisfying moment, more so because I was very upset at missing out on the celebrations when they actually happened.
This is India. This is its diversity. And no better place to be part of that feeling than in Bahrain, a true melting pot of all the culture and traditions the nation has to offer. When they all assemble harmoniously on a peaceful setting like the feast items on a banana leaf, it’s a celebration in itself. Happy ONAM!