Even as Kerala has been hit by the worst floods in a century, however, the Onam celebration brought some respite on Saturday. People at various relief camps across the state, relished the traditional Onam 'sadya' or lunch.
The second day of the harvest festival, called Thiru Onam, fell on Saturday.
Camp officers ensured the availability of vegetables and other commodities after men and women in the camps insisted they would cook the 'sadya' themselves instead of accepting what was being offered by NGOs and clubs.
Of course not all the 26 dishes that constitute the 'sadya' could be readied but people appeared to be happy with what they could prepare.
Children in the camps gathered whatever flowers were available in and around the camp sites to prepare floral carpets.
Ever since monsoon rains began lashing Kerala on May 29, a total of 213 people have died. This month, unprecedented floods caused widespread destruction and forced more than a million people to flee their homes to take shelter in relief centres.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday evening said 8.69 lakh people were still sheltered in 2,787 camps, big and small.
At a camp supported by a state-run engineering college, student volunteers joined the Onam celebrations.
In Kottayam, residents of Aymenem and Kumarakom said the Onam 'sadya' provided them huge relief after unending stories of human suffering.
"The bonhomie lit up our lives especially when we prepared our own 'sadya'," said a woman who was getting ready to return to her home.
Added Devika, at a camp in Kozihikod: "The tragedy has helped us learn many things which we never ever thought we would learn. We feel we have passed the litmus test."
Bringing solace to a relief camp in Kodungalloor on Saturday was superstar Mammootty, who urged everyone to keep a positive frame of mind.
"You are going to rebuild your lives. Remember, many of you were saved by people who never knew you. Likewise, while a million people were affected by the floods, 30 million Keralites were not. Just like you were saved by unknown people, unknown people all across Kerala will come to your rescue when you rebuild your lives.
"Also, the Kerala government is there with you. Just be positive," he said.
On the occasion of Onam, celebrities like Hema Malini, Jackie Shroff and Rajeev Khandelwal sent out good wishes to the people of flood-hit Kerala.
Here's what the stars tweeted:
Hema Malini: Wishing you all a very Happy
Wishing you all a very Happy Onam pic.twitter.com/zvi6YUlmV4— Hema Malini (@dreamgirlhema) August 25, 2018
Rajeev Khandelwal: Wishing all my Malyali friends a very happy Onam. May this festival usher in a new Kerala -- a very happy and prosperous one with all the miseries
Wishing all my malyali friends a very happy Onam. May this festival usher in a new Kerala- A very happy and prosperous one with all the miseries behind it!— Rajeev Khandelwal (@RK1610IsMe) August 25, 2018
Jackie Shroff: Happy Onam. Happiness always.
Happy Onam...— Jackie Shroff (@bindasbhidu) August 25, 2018
Happiness Always!!!! pic.twitter.com/eDv4zOfnkw
Amjad Ali Khan: Wishing all a very Happy Onam. Prayers for Kerala.
Ranveer Brar: Happy Onam. Wishing God's own country a speedy recovery and return to normalcy.<
Hansika Motwani: Happy Onam to all. Stay blessed all.
Happy #Onam to all . Stay blessed all— Hansika (@ihansika) August 25, 2018
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