Monday, August 24, 2009

Onam: Some interesting news

Some people call bloggers ‘scavengers of the media’. Never mind that. I am so touched by a news item that was splashed over the electronic and print media that I decided to write about it for the benefit of those who have missed the piece. To illustrate the contrast, I decided to add another story as well.

Sustaining loyalty

The kingdom was lost 62 years back. However, many of the erstwhile subjects and their descendants still have great regard for the Royal Family of Travancore. This was so movingly demonstrated at the Kowdiar Palace, Trivandrum, once again yesterday.

A representative group of about fifty people including men, women and children reached the Palace with hill produces and curios made by them as offerings to the Royal Family. First they paid homage at the tombs of the late Maharaja Sri Chithira Thirunal Bala Rama Varma and his sister Princess Karthika Thirunal Lakshmi Bhai.

They were Kanikars, a tribe that inhabits the Agasthakoodam Biosphere Reserve (ABR) area, about 60km from the State capital. These tribesmen are considered to be experts in the medicinal uses of the nearly 2,000 species of plants that grow in the ABR.

Princess Pooyam Thirunal Gowri Parvathi Bhai received them into the Palace. Later, the present head of the head of the Royal Family, Uthradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma, joined them.

The Kanikars presented the offerings to the royal personages and complained about the problems they were facing. They left after spending about an hour at the Palace. They were given money for travelling expenses and for celebrating Onam, Kerala’s premier festival.

I did not know till yesterday that this ritual is faithfully followed every year.

$1.2 billion Onam

In his column ‘Business Boom’ in the Malayala Manorama today, P. Kishore makes some stunning revelations about the spending habits of Keralities for Onam.

The highlights are:

1. In certain sectors like home appliances including AC, 40% to 60% of the annual sale is during Onam season. The expected turnover is Rs.1000 crores.

2. Gold ornaments business is estimated to be Rs.3000 crores or 25% of the annual sales.

3. Cloth shops rake in 25-30% of their yearly sales during this season. Small change – about Rs.40-60 crore.

4. About 10,000 vehicles are expected to be sold during Onam against 8,750 last season.

5. Then there are the expenses for liquor and food.

According to Kishore, the total expenditure for Onam in Kerala this year would be at least Rs.6000 crores. At Rs.50 to a USD, this works out to USD 1.2 billion. Or, is my calculation wrong? The funding, it seems, comes mostly from personal loans by banks.

Did someone say there is an economic meltdown?

Related posts:

The last of the Travancore Maharajas

A Princess leaves her land

Kerala: Onam goes up in spirit


Smitha said...

That bit about sustaining loyalty is indeed amazing! That it still happens - after62 years!

As for economic meltdown, I guess festive season discounts are lucrative enough to make people forget about it :)

Anand Antony said...

The Travancore royal family was quite progressive in their outlook. We should judge them in the context of ruling a province aptly described by Swami Vivekanada as the "mad house" of India. While staying in the "Summer Palace" at Kuttikkanam the king used to meet the tribal "Mooppans" (chieftains)and these Mooppans were given the same respect as given to any other royals. So I can understand why the Kanikars are still loyal - because the Maharajahs treated the tribals with respect even in those days. This symbol of progressiveness was not an isolated case. Even the struggles of reformers like the great Ayyankali could bear fruit partly due to the support of the Maharajah. Don't underestimate the pressure the Maharajah might had to withstand from the higher castes while nominating Ayyankali to he Sreemoolam Assembly. The Royal family was also very visionary as demonstrated by the commissioning of Muricken to reclaim backwaters for cultivating rice to ward off any future food shortage.


Abraham, you must have noticed this trend in Chennai/Tamilnadu - people spend on white goods at the festival time. My guess is that this happens because bonuses are given at this period.

As for the graciousness of the Royal Familyof Travancore, it only matches their simplicity and sincerity.

Kariyachan said...

Dear AT Sir;

Wishing you and your family a Hearty Onam!


Ashvin said...

Yes, Smitha, as a monarchist, I used to think I was in a very small minority of one, but apparently not.....

perumalythoma said...

Truly Mr. Tharakan, I find festivals in Kerala extremely funny.
All year long we complain about the lack of industry, lack of jobs et al.
Then come Onam/Christmas/Easter, you would think the jewellery stores are railway stations.
On an aside, aren't economic meltdowns only applicable to places that have an economy? Heh heh.

Jothish said...

Dear Mr Tharakan,
Haven't seen a post since 24th Aug. Hope everything is well at your side.

between the lines said...

Dear Mr Tharakan,
Just wondered if you received my mail. Thought I would get in touch with you here to make sure.
Interesting post.

onam wallpaper said...

Happy onam to everybody. The figures given about onam sales is really interesting and informative. It shows that onam is very important for business