Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lightning and Finn: Part 3- Onam

 Lightning, Finn, and I were in Ft. Cochin, Kerala for the beginning of Onam, a statewide festival.  For Onam, people make beautiful flower designs at their businesses or in their homes.  Below is one that was made for the public square.  It took several days for them to create this...


It was beautiful when they finished it....Can you imagine how many flowers it took to make?

To offset costs, there was a raffle.  I can't remember what most of the possible prizes were, but I do remember one: a bag of rice!  Since that is a staple of the diet here, it'd be a good prize to win!

On the second day of Onam, we got to share an Onam lunch with a family.  First we spruced up their flower decoration (below)

There are particular foods prepared for Onam and it is tradition to eat the meal on a banana leaf. Seeing the spread, we were reminded of Thanksgiving Dinner!

The foods also have a particular place they go on the banana leaf.  Rice (not served yet), goes in the middle.  Bit by bit, mix the rice in with the various vegetables (it's a vegetarian meal).  The rice soaks up the juices.  All the mixing and eating is done with your hands.  Most people eat with their right hands, but I was told it was OK to eat with my left.  The important thing, I was told, is that the same hand used for eating not be used for serving.  After the meal, it is very easy to clean up.  Fold the banana leaf (away from you, so no leftover juices fall into your lap) and toss!    

We left very full and thankful (so perhaps it was a Thanksgiving meal!) to the family who'd shared their tradition with us!  It was here, by the way, that we sang "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria."  Such fun.  We went straight from this meal to the airport, headed for Calcutta! 

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