Participants in Castlegar's Onam festival created a beautiful floral display.

Students bring a bit of India to Castlegar by celebrating the festival of Onam

A group of Selkirk College students from India arranged a celebration of the festival of Onam last week.

A group of Selkirk College students from India arranged a celebration of the festival of Onam last week. About 50 people, including students, faculty and families, some from as far as Nelson, gathered to celebrate the harvest festival that has its roots in the province of Kerala, India.

Onam commemorates the homecoming of King Mahabali. The festival is unique in that it is state festival celebrated by all religions and castes. It is believed that King Mahabali is so attached to his kingdom, that he returns from the nether world once a year to see his people. Mahabali was known for his generous rule and the people show their appreciation by decorating with carpet style floral arrangements, called Pookalam, and wearing new clothes in order to show him that prosperity and happiness are alive in his kingdom.

The festival is so dear to the heart of people from Kerala that it is celebrated all around the world wherever they currently reside.

The local celebration included a feast, which was provided potluck style. The food was so abundant that after the event was over organizers shared the leftovers with residents of the college dorms.

Organizer Jijith Haridas, like many of the other international students at Selkirk, is from the province of Kerala. Haradas acknowledged that missing home can be a problem for the students. “That is one of the key reasons why I decided to throw this festival,” he said. “So the people that are so far from home can feel a little bit comfortable and happy celebrating something that is close to them.” Another reason for the festival was “to tell the Canadian friends, students and faculty that came to the festival — to help them get an understanding of the cultural background and have a cultural exchange with the people of Canada,” explained Haradas.

One example of that cultural exchange is that the drawing for the traditional Pookalam flower carpet was done by a Canadian, but the arranging of the flowers was done by Indians.

Haridas was very pleased with how the event turned out. “Everyone got to know more and was happy to understand some of the background of the country where many students come from — it was a real international exchange,” he said.

Just Posted

School District 8 names new international principal

Jann Schmidt has been an educator for 26 years

Passenger counts still rising at West Kootenay Regional Airport

Reliability rates also on rise in second quarter.

Last stop: The inside story of Queen City Shuttle and Charters’ closure

Former employees open up about the Nelson company’s final days

How the Queen City Shuttle and Charters’ closure affected you

Here’s what readers had to say about the company’s shutdown

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

How much do you know about the moon?

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, see how well you know space

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

UPDATE: West Kelowna fawn euthanized, not claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer has been euthanized after a suitable home was not found in time

BC Wildfire Service warns wet weather no reason to be complacent

Fire risk currently low for much of B.C. compared to same time over last two years.

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

Most Read