Onam 2023 will be a landmark for Malayalee Hindus in Auckland

Venkat Raman
Auckland, August 14, 2023

Onam will manifest itself as a multicultural and multifaceted event as the Organisation of Hindu Malayalees New Zealand (OHM NZ) bring a range of local talents to the centre stage this year.

“It will be a landmark in the history of our Organisation with more than 1000 guests expected to attend the event at Mahatma Gandhi Centre on Saturday, September 2, 2023. We will usher in our era of prosperity with the message of love, mutual respect, goodwill and understanding that are underscored in the Onam festivities in our home state of Kerala,” OHM NZ President Sasi Nambissan said.

Onam will be celebrated in Kerala this year on August 29, 2023 and overseas organisations usually conduct the festival on a proximate weekend to suit the convenience of local communities.

Mr Sasidharan said that his Organisation has taken a major decision to move to a larger venue this year given the growing popularity of Onam and the enthusiastic response from members of OHM NZ and the resident communities.

“The first Onam Festival that we conducted in 2017 was attended by more than 300 people and the number has been steadily increasing and last year, almost 700 people attended the celebrations held at Sai Sansthan in Onehunga, Central Auckland. We took the bold step of shifting the venue this year, with the support of our members, our patrons and sponsors. We are thankful to them for their blessings and support,” he said.

Mr Nambissan said that OHM NZ has more than 360 members on its rolls and that the number is increasing. The Organisation has started marking many Hindu religious and social festivals and observances, which are evincing the interest of its members and more importantly the younger members of the community.

“Onam 2023 will be held from 5 pm to 10.30 pm at the Mahatma Gandhi Centre, located at 145 New North Road, Eden Terrace in Auckland Central, which has multiple facilities including a large stage with sound and light systems, an extensive kitchen with dining area and plenty of room for children to move around and enjoy themselves. We have organised multicultural and multiethnic performances to highlight the universality of Onam as a Festival of Joy and Togetherness. The highlight of the programme will as usual be the Onam Sadhya- an extensive and exquisite vegetarian meal with a variety of dishes that have made Kerala famous,” Mr Nambissan said.

Tickets to the event, priced at $35 for adults and $15 for children can be obtained from President Sasi Nambissan (021-797573), Secretary Devi Sobhana (022-0697050) or Executive Committee Member Lakshmanan Iyer 022-0948540.
https://ohmnz.org.nz/events/thiruvonam-2023/
https://ohmnz.org.nz/events/thiruvonam-2023-guest-tickets/
For more details of the event  go to  www.ohmnz.org.nz  

Traditional dances are a part of the Onam Festival (Photo of 2022 event supplied)

The Onam bond

For all the variations in economic, social, religious and political disparity, there are a few factors that bind Keralites into a common fold. The most outstanding among them is the Onam Festival, which heralds an atmosphere of love, affection and togetherness.

This Festival, which is observed invariably in September (although it can occur even in August) brings together the State’s people of every faith and disposition. Malayalis see no difference among themselves- either as Hindus, Muslims, Christians or any other faith – or as rich or poor in celebrating Onam, the Festival of Joy.

There is an old saying that resonates with the Festival: “Kaanam Vittum Onam Unnanam” (One must feast during Onam, even if it means selling one’s land). Onam is an observance that sends Keralites to a near frenzy as Winter bids goodbye to Southern Hemisphere and embraces those in the North, heralding respectively Spring and Winter.

Mythological connotations apart, Onam is today a unique selling proposition for Kerala’s tour marketing machinery. The pretty coy bride State has many beauty enhancers in its Onam make-up kitty. The Kerala Tourism Department enhances its brand image on the international billboard attracting tourists.

Kathakali, Kaikotti Kali, Thiruvathira Kali, Theyyam, Boat Races, and caparisoned elephants add to Kerala’s brand image during the festival season. All of these form part of the global tourist’s Kerala itinerary as they land in the State’s four international airports in thousands during Onam.

Children are a part of the Onam Festival (Onam 2022 Photo Supplied)

About OHM NZ

Established as not-for-profit advocacy in 2017, the Organisation of Hindu Malayalees New Zealand (OHM NZ) serves the Malayali Hindu community in New Zealand.

The website of the Association says that the need for an organisation dedicated to Kerala Hindu ways of living became apparent around 2015 since no entity offered the growing Malayali Hindu population in New Zealand opportunities to involve, celebrate, teach, and learn about the different festivals and events unique to Kerala Hindus and their culture.

“We had reached a stage where we could not exist as pockets of people trying to reinvent Kerala in New Zealand and there was a growing need to unite and function as one front. When the idea to form an association was mooted by some members of our community to Papakura Ganesh Temple Chief Priest Parameswaran (Chandru), our current Patron, he called for a meeting of a few interested people. Since then, a resolute few worked to establish the necessary foundation that then proved to serve as a platform to propel our community to greater achievements socially, culturally, and religiously which culminated in the informal creation of OHM NZ and its legal formation and registration in 2019.”

Mr Nambissan said that since then, the entity has been successful in building an organisation that offers opportunities to perform, practice, learn and deeply engage in the Hindu way of living.

“The aim is not only to recreate the environment and all aspects of Malayali Hindu Living in New Zealand but also to help our members to integrate into the New Zealand society,” he said.

He said that OHM NZ is also blessed with the generosity of its members during the flood relief missions in Kerala in 2018 when many of them travelled to Kerala and stayed there for months helping the victims of the flood to rebuild their homes and start new lives.

“OHM NZ has been very proactive in conducting all the important Hindu festivals and events in Auckland such as Onam, Vishu, Thiruvathira, Navaratri, Ayyappa Villakku, Bhagavati Seva, Vavubali, Vidhyarambham, Ayappa Bhajans during Mandala Kalam and many more,” Mr Nambissan said.

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