Participants in Castlegar's Onam festival created a beautiful floral display.

Students bring a bit of India to Castlegar by celebrating the festival of Onam

A group of Selkirk College students from India arranged a celebration of the festival of Onam last week.

A group of Selkirk College students from India arranged a celebration of the festival of Onam last week. About 50 people, including students, faculty and families, some from as far as Nelson, gathered to celebrate the harvest festival that has its roots in the province of Kerala, India.

Onam commemorates the homecoming of King Mahabali. The festival is unique in that it is state festival celebrated by all religions and castes. It is believed that King Mahabali is so attached to his kingdom, that he returns from the nether world once a year to see his people. Mahabali was known for his generous rule and the people show their appreciation by decorating with carpet style floral arrangements, called Pookalam, and wearing new clothes in order to show him that prosperity and happiness are alive in his kingdom.

The festival is so dear to the heart of people from Kerala that it is celebrated all around the world wherever they currently reside.

The local celebration included a feast, which was provided potluck style. The food was so abundant that after the event was over organizers shared the leftovers with residents of the college dorms.

Organizer Jijith Haridas, like many of the other international students at Selkirk, is from the province of Kerala. Haradas acknowledged that missing home can be a problem for the students. “That is one of the key reasons why I decided to throw this festival,” he said. “So the people that are so far from home can feel a little bit comfortable and happy celebrating something that is close to them.” Another reason for the festival was “to tell the Canadian friends, students and faculty that came to the festival — to help them get an understanding of the cultural background and have a cultural exchange with the people of Canada,” explained Haradas.

One example of that cultural exchange is that the drawing for the traditional Pookalam flower carpet was done by a Canadian, but the arranging of the flowers was done by Indians.

Haridas was very pleased with how the event turned out. “Everyone got to know more and was happy to understand some of the background of the country where many students come from — it was a real international exchange,” he said.

Just Posted

Castlegar’s Waterline property purchased; owners to protect it for rock climbers

New owners plan to subdivide, sell bluffs to recreational climbing group

Feds, B.C. to expand Darkwoods Conservation area

New funding allows the national land trust to add some 7,900 hectares to the Darkwoods Conservation Area

Good fencing makes good neighbours— especially when your neighbours are bears

Workshop in Pass Creek this weekend to promote benefits of proper protection for livestock

Josie Hotel will be ready on opening day, says management

West Kootenay’s first ski-in, ski-out boutique hotel to open this month

Columbia Avenue paving scheduled for weekend

Paving on Castlegar’s main thoroughfare will take place in a few days, weather permitting.

Josie Hotel will be ready on opening day, says management

West Kootenay’s first ski-in, ski-out boutique hotel to open this month

Roy Clark, country singer, ‘Hee Haw’ star, has died

Guitar virtuoso died because of complications from pneumonia at home in Tulsa, Okla. He was 85.

Lack of funding, culture on campus biggest barriers for Indigenous students: report

Report based on nearly 300 responses found lack of support at post-secondary schools a big concern

Tinder sex assault suspect charged; additional alleged victims sought

Vincent Noseworthy of Alberta is accused of aggravated sexual assault, unlawful confinement and more

Drug-related deaths double for B.C. youth in care, advocate says

Teens say positive connections with adults key to recovery

Children’s strawberry-flavoured medicines recalled due to faulty safety cap

Three different acetaminophen syrups part of nationwide recall

Around the BCHL: Junior A cities to host World Junior tuneup games

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the league and around the junior A world.

International students hit hard by B.C. tuition fee hikes

Campaign seeks regulatory controls be imposed on post-secondary institutions

Selkirk College nursing students visit Honduran migrants

Students were overwhelmed by migrants’ hope in the face of poverty and displacement

Most Read