Cultural and religious events keep Hindu Malayalis busy

Former Hindu Samajam President Gopal Ayyar receives the Onam 2022 Poster from Papakura Ganesha Temple Chief Priest Chandru Parameswaran (Photo Supplied)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, August 15, 2022

OHM NZ, formerly known as Auckland Malayali Hindu Samajam (AMHS) changed its name recently to be inclusive of all Hindus of the Malayali Community of New Zealand, not just Auckland, as a step toward having a parent organisation.

Standing strong for five years now, OHM owes its existence to founding members Gopal Ayyar, Pradeep Achary and Cijimon Kesavan with the support of a few other like-minded people.  It was their compassionate idea of bringing Hindu Malayalees together that paved the way for the formation of the Organisation.

Papakura Ganesha Temple Chief Priest Chandru Parameswaran performed the initiation Pooja, which was attended by members of the Organisation.

The Auckland Hindu Samajam was registered in 2017 with about 40 members.

Pillared by the tremendous support of the community and relentless pursuit of all Executive Committee members, the organisation has grown to where we are now, steadily strengthening its membership database to 350 Family members and 100 individual members.

Every year we get to serve great festivals and entertainment programmes attended by about 700 people. These include Onam, Vishu and Navratri celebrations.

More than 800 men and women attended the Ayyappan Vilakku Pooja held on November 28, 2020, at the Papakura Temple

Engaging the youth

We created a youth group in 2020-221 for our members aged 18 to 32. The idea of forming this group was to make a difference by contributing to the community, while simultaneously helping young people to develop their interpersonal skills. Our objective is also to guide them towards righteous living and keep them rooted in our culture.

Youth clubs provide positive activities for young people, increasing their health, well-being, aspirations, and engagement levels. Some of their activities include Sunday Badminton Club, fortnightly trekking and blood donation.

Traditions and Rituals

Since its inception, our Organisation has specifically included traditional Hindu rituals to ensure that we are not lost in transition during the process of moulding ourselves into this western world and preserving our spirit of Sanatana Dharma. Examples of some of those main activities are ‘Karkidakam Vavu Bali’ performed to appease our ancestors; the ritual is performed on New Moon Day (Amavasya) during the Monsoon season in the state of Kerala.

Another tradition is a culture-based initiative to read the great Indian Epic Ramayana during the Malayalam month of Karkidakam (Mid-July to Mid-August).

This month is famous for dark clouds and torrential rains, leading to deluge and destruction of crops, thereby creating hardship for the farming community. Karkidakam usually places farmers under financial stress, while the damp season subsequent sufferings from general sickness.

Families praying during the Malayalam month of Karkidakam (Photo Supplied)

It is believed that reading Ramayana helps people to build self-confidence and gain strength during the most challenging time of the year.

The Sacred Book of Ramayana, written originally by Maharishi Valmiki has been retold in Malayalam by Thunchaththu Ramanujan Ezhuthachan in Kilippattu (Bird Song) format.

OHM NZ had participants in the ‘Ramayana Parayanam Group.’ Members gathered every day at home and read Ramayana slokas in front of the Idol of Lord Rama.

The last day of this Programme will be August 16, 2022.

Vishu, ushering in the New Year is an important festival for Malayalis (Photo Supplied)

Competition for children

We also celebrate Ashtami Rohini (Sri Krishna Jayanthi) with bhajans and this year we have planned to incorporate children dressed as Balakrishna. We have sought expression of interest in competitions catering to all age groups. We are confident that the programme will create awareness among children about Hindu culture, tradition and values.

We are gratified by the response and we are happy that the younger generation in New Zealand is accepting our initiatives with great enthusiasm and appreciation.

Ayyappan Vilakku

Ayyappan Vilakku, one of the most auspicious events in the Malayali calendar, used to be held at the Papakura Temple in November with OHM NZ as a volunteer. This religious ceremony pays tribute to Lord Ayyappa, widely and mostly worshipped by Kerala Hindus.

Vishu is another major festival, marking the beginning of the Malayalam New Year. Our Association celebrates this event with enthusiasm.

There are numerous other special days in a year and we have initiatives to rejuvenate the Hindu community with Bhagavatam classes, Narayaneeyam Group, Bhagavathi Seva and other activities, Our members are regularly notified of all small, large, online or public programmes through our Facebook Page, Text Messages and other social media platforms including Instagram. Our online engagement has become very popular.

Onam Festival on September 3, 2022

Onam is a major event for all Malayalis held during the month of Chingam. While Onam extends over ten days, the main festival is celebrated over three days at the end of August or early September every year.

Onam denotes the homecoming of the legendary King Mahabali. According to Hindu legend, he was a generous and benevolent ruler. He was also known as ‘Bali,’ ‘Indrasenan, and ‘Maveli. He was the grandson of Prahlada and a descendant of sage Kashyapa. There are many versions of his legend in ancient texts such as the Shatapatha Brahmana, Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Puranas.

It is believed that Mahabali defeated the Gods and took over the three worlds. This led to widespread anger and frustration among the Gods who appealed to Lord Vishnu for help.

But Mahabali was his devotee and hence Lord Vishnu found it difficult to intervene.  However, acceding to constant appeals, He went to visit Mahabali disguised as a poor and diminutive Brahmin. This form is known as the Vamana Avatar.

Mahabali agreed to the wishes of the Brahmin- land that he measures in three steps. He is said to have covered the Earth and the Universe in the first two steps and asked Mahabali how he can take his third step. The latter offered his head, thumped by which, Mahabali was sent to the netherworld. However, Lord Vishnu granted him a boon – that he can return one day every year to see his people. This day is celebrated as Onam.

Onam Sadya, a multi-course meal served on a banana leaf, is one of the highlights of Onam.

The festival includes boat races called ‘Vallam Kali.’

This year’s Onam celebrations of OHM NZ will be held on Saturday, September 3, 2022, at Shri Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan Community Centre located at 12, Princess Street in Onehunga, Auckland. The programme will include classical dance performances such as Mohiniyattam, Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi, Vallamkali songs and games for children.

The festival will be held from 10 am to 5 pm.

This is a ticketed event, priced at $20 per person including lunch.

Sasi Nambissan is President of the Organisation of Hindu Malayalis New Zealand. He can be contacted on 021-797573. Membership and Onam festival details can be obtained from Dhanya Anup on 0274-030303 and Devi Sobhana on 022-0697050.

Website: www.ohmnz.org.nz

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