Onam becomes day of rehabilitation for flood-hit Keralites

Chennai: Standing in solidarity with lakhs of flood victims in Kerala, ‘Onam’ was not celebrated officially in the State.

The unprecedent floods has taken a toll on Kerala with the government focusing on rehabilitating of lakhs of families.

The death toll due to heavy rains and subsequent flood stands at 417 and 36 people are reportedly missing.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who visited relief camps said a total of 8.69 lakh people were still sheltered in 2,787 relief centres in the State.

It may be noted that, the Kerala government on 14 August had announced that it will not be organising any ‘Onam’ celebrations in the State due to the severe damage to human lives and property.

As a result, several businesses, which had banked on the festival for their livelihood, have taken a severe hit.

Schools, colleges, IT companies, residents associations and recreational clubs, had announced in advance not to celebrate the iconic festival of Kerala, this year, instead contributed the money to flood relief work.

Onam’, a harvest festival is celebrated every years by all Malayalees despite cultural, religious barriers.

The festival celebrates the return of the demon (asura) King Mahabali to Kerala. All the festivities during ‘Onam’ are mainly preparations to welcome him. Mahabali was considered to be a very kind and generous ruler. In fact, the period during which he ruled over Kerala is often referred to as the Golden period.

“I did not see any ‘flower carpets’ or lights in any house or in public places,” says Jithin, a Keralite.

Even Malayalees outside Kerala did not conduct any feasts. Members of at least 500 Malayali associations in Mumbai cancelled celebrations for ‘Onam’.

The flood have destroyed nearly 7,000 houses and another 50,000 partially damaged.

Immediate measures are being taken to remove slush and silt from flood-hit houses and to rebuild the damaged ones.

A relief volunteer at Pathanamthitta said,”Each family has faced loss worth lakh of rupees. One-feet mud has been accumulated inside and outside the house. Twelve people are required to clean one house. Even though we are not celebrating ‘Onam’, we are celebrating humanity.”

The State Government also announced that loans up to Rs one lakh will be provided to the female head of the family, and its interest will be borne by the government. A special food and rehab kit, including five kg rice, will be distributed to those who return home from relief camps, after proper sanitation.

PM SAYS NATION STANDS WITH KERALA

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today expressed hope that the festival of Onam will give new strength to the people of Kerala to overcome the advertises in the aftermath of the floods.

He said the country is behind the people of the state.

‘May this Onam give further strength to the people of Kerala to overcome the adversities they have been facing for the past few days,' he wrote on Twitter.

The entire nation stands shoulder to shoulder with Kerala and prays for the happiness as well as prosperity of its citizens, he said.

The State has been witnessing its worst floods in a century. Heavy rains and flooding have claimed 231 lives since 8 August in the second spell of the monsoon.

HOPE STATE RECOVERS SOON: PREZ KOVIND

President Ram Nath Kovind expressed hope that the State recovers from the devastating floods. 'Good wishes to fellow citizens, particularly to our brothers and sisters in Kerala, on Onam. May this festival mark a new beginning for all those in Kerala recovering in the aftermath of the floods, and gradually beginning to rebuild their lives,' he posted on Twitter.


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