Propagandists have often proclaimed that Onam has a Hindu connection. The myth involving Vishnu and Mahabali is one instance for this coagulation. There is lighting of traditional lamps, special pujas in temples and so on. That being said, the festival of Onam also resides in contours adjacent to what may be called a religiously neutral space. But the origin of this neutral position has to come from the story of how the term Hindu evolved. That might take a long time and space to narrate.
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Taken as the name of a culture, the term Hindu does have a connection with Onam as the term is connected to everything in India or everything that is part of the Indian culture. “Hindusthan” is a name we are called in antiquity across the world. At some point in time, Hindu seems to have acquired the status of a religion though. From that moment in history onward, we had taken this word with extra care. This care went for and against compartmentalization of people as well. The discussion I initiated in this page too has its bearings on the same back and forth movement of the meaning of the term Hindu.
A person celebrating Onam working through floral carpets on his courtyard, kids playing in the land around the house, all are part of a very intimate nostalgia every Keralite is brought up with. Even if one lives in the present day, Television-ruled era of celebrations, this nostalgia comes across and is fed into one’s consciousness. The problem with this constant supply of nostalgia is that it demands its own sustenance from the person who harbours it.
To be contd.