The poem below on the subject ‘Moonlight’ won the first prize. It was the perfect way to begin the harvest festival, Onam.
This festival is celebrated by Keralites in India and abroad. While it is essentially a festival of Kerala, I’m sure a lot of people from other states and countries have enjoyed the ‘Onam Sadya’ at some point in time- food served on this day on a plantain leaf. I have a friend from Pakistan who has special memories of having this meal with her dad which actually came as a surprise to me when she told me, several years’ ago. If you haven’t ever had it, then please do.
This year the festival isn’t being celebrated in Kerala because of the devastation caused by the floods. And for all those who’ve lost homes or family members due to the floods, I hope and pray that this Onam brings back peace, joy and prosperity into your lives. May God give you the strength to move on and May Kerala prosper again.
We had a quiet Onam too, in solidarity with our family and friends in Kerala who have lost a lot. And yet it was beautiful for reasons that may not mean much to others but they did to me. For one, the Mandir (a temple to house the Gods we worship) that I had ordered 3 weeks’ ago and was supposed to be delivered last week by Amazon but got delayed because it got damaged on the way, was delivered today and family that was once estranged for reasons that were self-created, left the past behind and spoke to each other like old times’ today. For me this was the most beautiful miracle. So Onam this year was extra- special in a sweet way, for me.
I can’t help but remember the words of the song, ‘I have a dream’… from Mamma Mia
I believe in angels
Something good in everything I see
Now for the poem that won the prize based on an experience I had few years’ ago in Oman
Miracle of life to watch unfold, in the deathlike night,
The splendor of creation to witness, under the moonlight,
Peace around, no sign of life, they were under surveillance,
The moon, a spectator, watched in a trance,
The waves rose and fell, in a synchronized dance…
Sea gulls and night herons screeched and cried,
A giant turtle emerged, to drag herself she tried,
They watched her every move to shore, slowly; no urgency,
Aware of the eyes that followed, she dug her pit,
Heaped the sand over her and lowered herself into it …
Fifty pairs of eyes watched in awe,
One by one, hundred glistening eggs dropped, glossy,succulent, white,
Ravenous birds of prey circled overhead; predators of the night,
She heard the sounds; the eyes she saw,
In another pit, tiny turtles scrambled, began their life’s journey,
Five hundred meters to cross, five hundred meters to sea…
Some would make it, some would not; life a fight,
Fifty pairs of eyes witnessed it that moonlit night…
For all those who have never celebrated Onam, I have shared a few pictures of Onam celebrated at home last year with friends from Maharashtra, Orissa, U.P. and Calcutta (different states in India) in the traditional off-white silk/cotton sari with a flower arrangement called Onapookkalam and vegetarian food served on a banana leaf. There could be as many as 30 items served on the leaf to satisfy all taste-buds.
If you’ve never had a Onam Sadya or had never heard of it until now, do have one when you get the chance.
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