Malayalis in Bihar cancel Onam celebrations

Cultural organisation in Bihar instead decides to raise funds for the flood-affected people of Kerala

Patna: Malayali families settled in Bihar state say they will not celebrate Onam this year in view of the devastating floods in Kerala that claimed more than 370 lives and rendered roughly a million people homeless.

Onam, the biggest and most important festival for Malayali people linked to harvest, is set to conclude on August 27 this year.

“It’s the festival for which we wait for the whole year but we are not celebrating this year owing to the flood disaster in Kerala,” South Indian Cultural Association (SICA) secretary Ajith Kumar said on Tuesday.

Instead of spending money on the festival, the organisation has now decided to raise funds and send aid to the flood-affected people of Kerala at this time of crisis, Kumar added.

SICA is not alone in its unique gesture.

Many Malayali organisations, such as Onam South Indian Association, Kerala Club, Kerala Arts Committee, Nair Service Society too have cancelled Onam celebrations and are collecting funds for the flood victims.

“Onam is out biggest festival during which we organise various programmes marked by elaborate feast but this year we have decided to save the money to be spent on celebrating the festival and send them to the floods victims,” Kerala Club secretary M. Mathew said.

There are some 400-500 Malayali families settled in Patna who usually celebrate the festival with pomp and fanfare, holding rangoli (decoration) contests and organising elegant dances.

In another gesture, serving and retired officers of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in Bihar have decided to provide monetary help to the flood-devastated Kerala from their salaries and pensions.

At an emergency meeting of the IAS Association held on Monday night, the members decided to send a sum of Rs250,000 (Dh13,140) immediately to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund while pledging to send more contributions later.

As per the decision taken at the meeting, the principal secretary-rank officials will donate Rs10,000 whereas the secretary-rank officers will donate Rs7,500. Other IAS Association members (both serving and retired) will donate Rs5,000.

On the other hand, lawmakers from the Communist Party of India (Marxists-Leninist) announced to donate their full month salary to the flood victims. The student community too is begging on the streets and collecting donations for the suffering people of Kerala.

The state government in Bihar has donated Rs100 millions to the flood-ravaged Kerala.

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