Keralites celebrate Onam across Gulf

Dubai, Sep 17 (IANS) Expatriates from the south Indian state of Kerala celebrated the harvest festival Onam with traditional fervour across various Gulf countries.

Keralites in the Gulf celebrated the festival Monday by partaking the special Onam meal, Onam Sadya, that comprises 20 to 30 dishes served on banana leaves and includes varieties of vegetables, rice, banana and payasam, media reported.

"We do miss colourful celebrations with a lot of activities back home," Gulf News quoted Gopa Kumar, who works for a private firm in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as saying.

"But at the same time this occasion reminds us the advantages of life in the UAE," he said.

Kumar's wife and mother-in-law woke up early Monday to prepare Onam Sadya for the family that includes his two schoolgoing children.

"Being a working day, we prepared the Onam Sadya before leaving for work and came back in the afternoon to enjoy the feast together," Kumar said.

In Saudi Arabia, the Indian embassy and Indian schools observed a holiday and hotels and restaurants run by Keralites prepared Onam Sadya.

Dammam, Riyadh and Jeddah, where the maximum number of Keralites in Saudi Arabia live, witnessed huge crowds in various hotels for the special festival feast.

"Being a Keralite I have to celebrate our national harvest festival wherever I am living," the Saudi Gazette quoted Balakrishna Pillai, a design engineer in Saudi Arabia, as saying.

In Oman, hotels and catering establishments did roaring business, but most of them found it difficult to meet the orders for Onam Sadya, the Times of Oman reported.

"By 11.30 a.m. itself, we stopped taking further orders for takeaways because we knew we would be unable to meet the demand," a hotelier in Ruwi told the newspaper.

Keralites make for the bulk of the expatriate Indian population in the Gulf countries.

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