That’s right. Grab a handful of kappa chips and that coconut water. Have a pappaddum. Sit down. Lay back and relax. And let me tell you a story. Let me tell you why we’re celebrating this week.
Eons ago, even before the ‘once upon a time’ time, there was this dude called King Mahabali. Dude was a demon king, but a kind hearted and all round good guy, nevertheless. Now, the Gods really couldn’t stand that Mahabali kept winning the ‘Mr Popularity’ contests year after year ( Rumour has it that his answer in the question round back in the 2008 B.C. contest for the ‘What qualities do you look for in a woman’ had quite a few apsaras and even Mrs Indra in heaven fantasising about a one night stand with this dusky Keralite hunk. )
Anyway, Lord Vishnu, Protector of the Universe ( there was no Danger Mouse back then ) was called on again to don the greasepaint, this time around as a dwarf Brahmin ( the other Gods felt he was finally ready to enact a full time human role after his previous performances as fish, boar and tortoise had received rave reviews and even a Golden Globe nomination). So he landed in front of M-Balls and said he wanted 3 feet of land. But before M-balls could get his measuring tape, Vamana ( for that was his name in this dwarf role ) said he meant 3 of his feets length. ‘Sure’, chuckled Bali.
Never laugh at a dwarf Brahmin.
Vamana suddenly started inflating and enlarging and before M-balls could say ‘Holy chemeen curry’, Vamans placed one foot on heaven and the second on Earth. He then asked Bali where to take his third step.
“Yende talailla vechoda, naiyandamone !!!” (It loosely transalates to “Kindly place it on my head, oh son of man’s best friend.”, though I may have tampered with the emotions of the sentence.)
Vaman’s did as he was told and M-Balls was sent down to the nether lands ( that’s hell, by the way and should not be confused with Netherlands, where you get dope and blonde girls legally aka heaven !! )
Anyway, every year he resurfaces for 10 days and we do the boogie to celebrate how no matter how hard you try, you can’t keep a damn Mallu down .
I hope the puttu and kadala curry was to your liking. Shobha will bring in the fried Nongal (ladyfish) shortly. So where was I ?
Yes, of course. That, my friend, is why Onam is celebrated in Kerala with such pomp, fervour and joy. It is also, learning from his example, the reason why Mallus strictly follow the ‘Do not use your head in times of anger’ rule. Besides, why should we ? One upswing of our lungis is enough to have the world at our feet... begging for mercy.
Still, isn’t it funny how 2 (Remember the Parushu ) out of 9 Vishnu avatars feature us Mallus in prominent roles ? 2,did I say ? I meant 3, of course. Oh, didn’t you know ?
This one took place much later on. Sita was in Sri Lanka, Ram and his army were there too, on visit visas to get her back after the ‘rangoli powder circle will keep demon away' fiasco and the monkeys tummies really weren’t getting along with the seafood there. In between all this, Ram’s kid bro Lakshmanan got shot by a poisoned arrow. Guess what ? The antidote was waaay back in the Himalayas. Now, only the hunky monkey Hanuman had a moped and he’d sped on and got the required herbs.
Unfortunately, he took a wrong turn at the Bangalore highway and ended up in Calicut and bang in the middle of a political strike. The Ezhavaas were demanding the right to do the Macarena in public. Sadly, it was not granted by the Namboodiris who were in favour of what we Keralities proudly know today as ‘gumakuth’ ( Ask any Mallu to demonstrate. If he says he doesn’t know the gumakuth, lynch him till he tells the truth of his actual heritage.. does not apply to Mallu NRIs. )The Macarena would be patented centuries later by a bunch of Latinos.. another grave loss of Indian heritage. Anyway, Hanuman befriended and was conned by an Ayurvedic orthopedician into believing he’d brought the wrong herbs. He was sent back and told to bring the whole mountain. The ulterior motive would be clear only later... it was to get some good seasoning for the naaranga ( Lime ) pickle they were making.
By the time Hanu realised that doc had made a donkey out of a monkey, the herbs were, literally, in the pot and he was ,metaphorically, in a pickle. Still, being the forever good guy that he was, he picked up the right herbs again meticulously and left. The orthopedician’s daughter, Cochin Chandrakutty, out of gratitude for his hard work, gave him some pickle and chips for the journey. And while he finished the pickle on the way, there was still some chips left when he returned to the war site. And lo and behold !! Even as Lakshmanan woke up repulsed after eating the herbs, the monkeys were rejuvenated by these mystical yellow chips, which tasted so different from the French fries they were used to at Mc Ravans.
In time, they would find that these chips were made not from the traditional potato, but instead from a new fruit – the humble banana. Thus, it was, after war had ended and the monkeys returned, that they spread the word of this new tasty fruit and it’s effect on them. In honour of this little told tale, even today, pictures all over depict monkeys all over the world as being banana lovers.
You hadn’t heard of this story? That’s not surprising. It’s only passed on from generation to generation amongst a select few descendants.. both of monkey and man. And trust me, the tale gets more awesome with each glass of toddy and banana chips.
Hic!! Simbly aasome, I say.
Happy Onam, everyone. God bless ya.