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Flash floods takes the sheen off Onam festivities in Kerala

Onam is celebrated across the state. All castes, classes and communities, who believe in the legend of King Mahabali, celebrate it

india Updated: Aug 23, 2018 23:26 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
Kerala,Kerala Floods,Onam
Customers buy flowers at a shop in Chalai Market of Kerala’s Thiruvananthpuram on Thursday ahead of Onam celebrations.(HT Photo)

Lambodharan, an actor who plays Mahabali’s role during Onam festivities annually, has lost most of his belongings to the worst floods that have hit Kerala in nearly 100 years. He says he will still perform the role to console the flood victims and make them laugh at least for a day. But not many appear to be in the mood to celebrate as the state struggles to deal with the aftermath of the floods that have left over 230 dead and displaced around 10 lakh people.

Thrissur’s ‘puli kali’ (tiger dance), which is a major tour attraction every year, has been called off while traders are facing losses in the festival season that otherwise means bumper business.

Flower merchant Vel Murugan said he had ordered flowers worth rs 40 lakh from Kanyakumari. “Usually, I earn over Rs 1.20 crore in this season but this time at least 70% of my stock is lying in baskets,” said Murugan, who has a shop in Thiruvananthapuram’s Chlai market.

Banana chips are an essential ingredient of the Onam feast and traders complain tones of chips are lying unsold. Vegetable and grocery merchants echoed them. Electronics and cloth merchants are keeping their fingers crossed about the festive season prospects.

Many companies usually launch their new brands during the Onam season. But they have been forced to withdraw their advertisements in print and electronic media. CARE, a rating agency, has said the state’s GDP will go down by at least one per cent in the current financial year because of the floods.

A banner tucked in a corner of a youth club in Chengannur captured the sentiment. “Lord Mahabali, please skip your visit this time. We do not want our benevolent king to witness our plight,’’ the banner in Malayalam read.

Onam is celebrated across the state. All castes, classes and communities, who believe in the legend of King Mahabali, celebrate it. The legend has it that demon (asura) king Mahabali once ruled Kerala and was banished. It is believed he returns once a year to bless his people during the festivities.

First Published: Aug 23, 2018 23:26 IST