High prices to hit Onam festivities this time

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 30 (Inditop.com) It will be an expensive Onam this year. Kerala’s harvest festival marked by sumptuous feasts and buying of new clothes, may not be as grand as usual – thanks to the rise in prices.

The festival is celebrated in honour of Mahabali, the mythical asura king of ancient Kerala, and Malayalees believe that on Onam day Mahabali visits his subjects. Onam is the official festival of the state.

Retired college professor E. Draupadi is unhappy over the high prices of vegetables, bananas and provisions, which have shot up 30-40 percent over last year.

“In my seven decades of Onam celebrations, I don’t think I have ever come across an Onam season which is going to be as expensive as this time. The price of a kilogram of banana has crossed Rs.30, while it was around Rs.18 last year. Likewise, vegetable prices also have shot up like anything,” said the 78-year-old professor who is awaiting the arrival of her three sons for the festival, that begins Sep 1.

Traditionally Onam is the festival when Keralites buy new dresses, but over the years people have begun buying electronic goods and home appliances too.

For people of Kerala, the one item that none can forgo during the season is crispy banana chips, and most homes keep fish and meat out of the kitchen on the three Onam days and turn to vegetables.

Agriculture Minister Mulakara Ratnakaran is burning the midnight oil to ensure that vegetable prices are kept to the minimum.

“We have come out with special vegetable kits, one which would cost Rs.50 that would be enough for a family for a day. We have also a kit for Rs.90 and we are certain that this would be enough to meet the needs of many during the Onam days,” said Ratnakaran.

The one common thing across homes in the state on Onam is the traditional 24-course Onam lunch served on plantain leaves.

“Gone are the days when the entire 24 course is cooked. In the earlier days, families used to spend a lot of time preparing the entire course. Nowadays since we have options, we either go to any hotel serving the Onam lunch or order it from small-time caterers. The women folk can thus get rest,” said Archana Nair, a housewife in Thiruvalla.

To add to the festival flavour, the state tourism department has announced a week-long cultural programme package in the capital city where more than 4,000 artists would perform.

Superstar Mohanlal is to do a special show here on Onam day. He will be honoured on completing three decades in the film industry, Tourism Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said.

The Kerala State Beverages Corporation has stocked liquor and beer worth Rs.250 crore at all retail outlets for the festival season, during which sales peak.

However, a dampener has come in the form of the Kerala High Court directing the state government to see that they do not violate the norm of observing the first of every month as dry day.

Since the Ramadan fasting season is also on, major film releases have been postponed.