International students and families who have migrated to the Kootenays from Kerala — the southern state of India — celebrated their regional festival in Castlegar last week.
The Onam festival is unique in that it is a state festival celebrated by all religions and castes in Kerala and is also celebrated all around the world wherever people from Kerala reside.
The celebration was first organized locally in 2016 by a group of Selkirk College students. It has grown from 50 participants in the first year to 160 this year.
The group celebrated with a traditional vegetarian lunch known as Onam Sadhya. Traditional dances and games were also part of the event.
The group created a Pookalam — an intricately designed flower mat — that is an integral part of the festival that commemorates the homecoming of King Mahabali.
More than $1,000 was raised at the event for the Community Harvest Food Bank.