June 25, 2021

Babita Jaishankar on Onam celebrations – Past and present

Here’s a lovely story of positivity, celebration, treasured memories and happiness. We have featured Babita Jaishankar earlier and this time this interesting mum- celebrity designer, entrepreneur and image consultant shares an aspect of her personal space on ‘festivals and celebrations.’

Babita shares, “Childhood memories of Onam evoke a warm and fuzzy feeling deep inside of me. I spent most of my childhood in Aurangabad (Maharashtra). My parents, especially my mom ensured that we got to experience this day in a special way. The school did not have a holiday for Onam – but I was determined to do what I could to spend the day with my family. I remember how a group of us went to the principal to ask for the day off for Onam.

The principal was a South Indian and did lend us a sympathetic ear and gave us the day off.  Preparations for Onam had to be done in advance in order to have all the ingredients for aviyyal, pulissery, sambar, olan and a host of other dishes ready on the eve of Onam. This this involved a trip to kerala grocery shops that was somewhat remote from our place.


It was a fun ritual to around collecting flowers for pookalam (rangoli using flowers that most people are familiar with.)

Eve of Onam was a special night! The flowers were sorted based on color and we picked a design based on the variety and colors we had collected. A coating of wet mud was applied on the ground (the more daring ones used cowdung) to prepare it for the pookalam. This was done to give the flowers a base to adhere to, and also to keep them fresh longer. While I experimented with the flowers, Mom and Dad would be  busy in the kitchen making preparations for the “Onam feast”. Dad was everywhere at the same time – whether it was sorting flowers, suggesting a design or grating half a dozen coconuts to extract coconut milk, which was a essential part of many dishes and payasam.


Fast forward to 2016.- It has been a constant effort over the years to keep traditions alive – at least to give my children a flavor of what our festivals mean and to create some memories that they would remember  – perhaps fondly when they are older. Luckily, today the community is a big help – and we’re thankful for that.

It’s an organized effort now to preserve a piece of the legacy we inherited, as we battle with the new generation’s values and pop-culture.

I still ensure (like my mom) that we have a special meal on Onam and yes all of make the pookalam  – maybe not as elaborate as in the yesteryear’s, but enough to give my kids a feeling of the variety and abundance, the aroma and the spirit, a sense of an age old tradition that this day brings.”

We thank Babita for sharing these amazing pictures, memories with Mums and stories.

Wishing  everyone ‘Happy Eid and Onam’.

If you too want to share your Onam or Eid story or recipes for the festive season mail us at mumsandstories@gmail.com with your contact details. We will love to publish interesting festive stories from mums.

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