The entire family of our Malayali neighbours, all dressed in new clothes, fresh out of their baths, were huddled together on the floor in the corridor outside our house, as I opened the door today morning for the OH to go to work. Flowers in different colours and other paraphernalia was scattered all over. Everyone was engrossed in making a ‘pookalam’ for Onam, even the two naughty brats I have never seen concentrating on anything for more than 2 minutes. ‘Happy Onam,’ everyone called out as the OH and I emerged out of our doorway to take in all the works. Their smiles were infectious, and my boring morning suddenly got infused with a load of enthusiasm.
This year, it is only these Malayali neighbours who are celebrating Onam on our floor. Later, I found that they have made the pookalam in the centre of the corridor, instead of just outside their own house. It seemed rather sweet – a pookalam shared by all four houses on our floor. Quite made my day!
It made me think: Why is it so easy for us to draw boundaries – this is yours and this is mine? This is your festival and this is mine? Why can’t we all share in the enthusiasm of the occasion, whatever it might be?
Happy Onam, people!