Ever since I could remember, Onam has always been a time of sparkling joy, lively camaraderie and unadulterated fun. Added to that are gastronomical delights and endless round table conferences we have at home. No doubt festivals play a vital role in nurturing relationships and cementing bonds that stand the test of time. So, Onam is a stockpile of a lot of wonderful memories.
Today, I see vested interests wishing us, Keralites, ‘Vamana Jayanthi’ instead of Onam. All media will be after this today. Analysis, discussions, points of view… However, to me there is no need for any dissection or postmortem. Why, you may ask.
I am reminded of a lovely story about the one and only Buddha, that is mentioned in one of Suttas. According to this, there were lots of people who were displeased about Buddha and his discourses. One such clan leader was quite angry that one of his followers had become a disciple of Buddha. Insecure that he will lose his position if more join the fold, he stormed into Buddha’s presence and started hurling insults and calling the Master, choicest abuses.
Buddha, being Buddha, remained calm and collected. When the man kind of stopped, the Buddha asked him, “Sir, do you get visitors coming to meet you?”
The man, completely lost at what Buddha was coming at, gruffly replied, “Yes.”
“Do you also be a perfect host and offer them eats and drinks?”
Carried in the flow of the conversation the man replied, “Yes. Why not?”
Buddha continued in his serene style, “Suppose, the guests said that they don’t want what you have offered, where will the eats, drinks and courtesies go to?”
“Back to my pantry and me, of course. They’ll all come back to me and I’ll enjoy them with my family.”
Buddha calmly continued, “If I too don’t accept what you flung at me today, where will they go? I do not accept them. You may take these back. Yes, it is all yours”
Light dawned on the man.
It is this story that I want to share with our Vamana Jayanthi wishers, for I feel strongly about it. To me Onam is Mahabali’s homecoming and nothing else. Taking a leaf from Buddha’s story, I do not accept Vamana Jayanthi wishes. You may keep it to yourself. For, if I don’t accept what you give me, it goes back to you.
And, sorry, am not allowing anyone to hijack the myth we have lived with and sanctify a new story.