Pre Monsoon rain

There’s been a lot going on personally so I haven’t managed to keep up with blogs and the water issue. I have been keeping a diary of events, which is now quite long, about the drought and the Cauvery water supply. (I may publish it when I leave the country; its such a sensitive subject here.) 

Pre Monsoon Rains

Over the last week or so the pre monsoon rains and storms arrived. We have had thunder and lightning, hail, wind and lots of rain. The rain came down so quickly one evening it floooded into Zahra’s bedroom. I got drowned trying to lift the grill off the drain so the water could escape quicker. 
The newspapers are reporting people being injured or killed in the rains and storms. Holiday has been cancelled for the state water and sewerage staff until after the monsoon.

Hot and Humid

It’s strange as it is still extremely hot and stifling at night. Sleep deprivation is coming into its own at the moment. In the U.K. such weather is associated with winter and it would be freezing cold. I’m sat outside at 8:30pm in 28C temperatures – it’s hot and humid. Mosquitoes, flying ants and all manner of creepy crawlies and flying insects are out and about. Three mosquito repellent sticks burning and lots of anti mosie spray and the blighters keep on coming. My legs look like a dot to dot from a zombie movie.

Snakes Alive!

Snakes are an issue to at this time of year. Thankfully we haven’t had any (so far) in our house or garden but the neighbours have this week. Cue an alert on Whatsapp and the snake catcher paying a visit. Anti snake powder is spread in a lot of gardens, ensuring that those of us who haven’t braved the truly appalling smell of the powder are even more likely to get a snake. Yippee!

First World Problems

The pre monsoon rains continued to disrupt power lines and supply well into yesterday. People started to lose patience. Our driver and helper were without power for over 24 hours meaning that they could not shower (water heaters not operational) their phones ran out of charge. Now it did strike me that it was somewhat of a first world problem caused by a developing world infrastructure. Phones are so critical here, especially for drivers. This place cannnot function without them, or we have forgotten how to. Turning up at a pre arranged time and place are a thing of 30 years ago, now people merely phone each other when they’re ready. How our society and culture have changed.


The Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) received over 3,200 complaints. I suspect it may take some time to work through all of those. Three electricity poles had been damaged and trees uprooted near two primary power stations causing damage. That’s not a quick repair. Some may be without power for some time yet.


When is it?

On am is celebrated in the month of Bhadrapad (a month in the Hindu calendar that corresponds with August/ September in the Gregorian calendar) on the twelfth day of the waning moon. It falls when the south west monsoon ends and the harvest season begins in the state of Kerala. In 2016, this is on Tuesday 13th September. 

History and Legend

According to legend the festival is the celebration following the home coming of the ‘Asura ‘ (a divine being in the Vedic period who compete for power) King Mahabali. King Bali ruled the state of Kerala; he was kind and just and accordingly the people loved him. When King Bali wanted to expand his kingdom further lord Vishnu attended the king’s court as the avatar ‘Vamana’ ( a dwarf priest). As this avatar, lord Vishnu granted the King the small wish of three steps of land. Then Vamana assumed an enormous form and in one step covered the entire earth, in the second step covered all the skies, then waited. The King placed his own head for lord Vishnu to rest his foot which pleased lord Vishnu. The King was granted one last wish as a consequence. (Another version of this story states that due to lack of space Vishnu put his third step or leg on Bali himself and crushed Bali to the nether or Patala Loka (underground world) thus helping the gods out). The King requested that he could return at least once a year to Kerala, his land. Onam is the day King Bali comes to visit his people and is celebrated to rejoice his homecoming.

How is it celebrated?

It is the biggest and most important festival in Kerala. It is celebrated over a period of ten days, starting from the first day of Atham and continuing until the tenth and biggest day called Thiruvonam. The festival attracts thousands of tourists from across the country and globe.

The first day of celebrations involves intricate floral carpets called Pookalam. Each day more flowers of differing colours are added to the floral carpet. Girls design the patterns in the front of the houses and the boys gather the flowers. Prayers are said in the temple.

The biggest day is Thiruvonam when festivities start as early as 4am. People clean up their houses, take a bath, wear new clothes and pray for blessings. A special Pookalam is designed to welcome the spirit of King Maveli. The high point of the day is an enormous lunch with 11-13 prescribed dishes (which is prepared by all, even if they’re struggling financially). It is effectively a 10 day carnival in which everyone takes part.