The stage is set for Geelong’s very own Onam festival.
Onam is a festival with origins from the state of Kerala in India. Onam is a major annual event for Kerala people in and outside India. It marks the summer harvest and is celebrated with numerous festivities.
This year’s Onam will be celebrated on 4 September, but Geelong Maitri is holding its celebration on 2 September at Geelong West Town Hall. The event starts at 10.30am, followed by the inauguration by South Barwon MP Andrew Katos.
Onam is one of the biggest and most important harvest festivals from Kerala. Geelong Maitri has been celebrating Onam for the last nine years, presenting the rich Indian culture, art and food that Geelong’s multicultural community are invited to enjoy and experience.
“We really want to have participation from everybody,” Geelong Maitri committee member Nishar Hameed said.
“We invite everybody and we want to reach out to other communities. This is a harvest festival and it’s for everyone. This is a time when people are harvesting and make their money. There’s no religion involved at all, it’s a time for everyone.”
According to a popular legend, the festival is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam. Onam is celebrated in the beginning of the month of Chingam, the first month of Malayalam Calendar (Kollavarsham). This corresponds with the month of August-September in the Gregorian Calendar.
Around 200 people attended last year’s festival, but organisers are expecting around 350 this year. Geelong West Town Hall has the capacity to cater for 500 festival goers.
“It’s a nonprofit event – you only pay $25 for your lunch which will involve more than 10 dishes,” Nishar said.
“All the other entertainment, dancing, music is free.”
Geelong Maitri’s Onam Festival is on 2 September starting at 10.30am at Geelong West Town Hall, Pakington Street.
The celebration will start with ’Chendamelam’ (drum beats) at 10.30am followed by various cultural performances including a variety of dance forms, songs, skits etc. The delicious and unique ‘Onam Sadhya’ (traditional lunch) will be served at noon.
For bookings, go to www.trybooking.com/refe

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