Had you been wondering what ‘Maveli’ would have seen in Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth on his visit during Onam, this time around? Considering the trouble he might have gone to obtain a pass for his annual visiting privilege, we surely didn’t want to disappoint him beyond the conspicuous lack of most of our CVV family, especially our enthusiastic students who welcomed him with much aplomb last year.
The signs of the new normal imposed by Covid would not have gone unnoticed. The vibrantly coloured masks on all faces were a new additional accessory for the cream and gold sarees and ‘mundus’. They did hide the welcoming smiles but not the cheering voices shouting ‘aarppo irom’. The distance everyone maintained from each other might have been a bit puzzling at first. But he would have understood that there was no distance in our hearts. CVV’s spirits soared high, undampened by the pandemic, at least for the day.
The celebrations and preparations for the same began early and as with all festivals, in collaboration with the Chinmaya International Foundation (CIF) family. Nine days of floral designs in front of the ‘illom’ made solely using the flowers of our campus’s bountiful flora, two delicious feasts, and impromptu singing sessions culminated in wonderful festivities on the Thiruvonam day, i.e. 31st August 2020. Dressed in their festive best, the remaining few members of CVV family on campus assembled near the ‘illom’ to admire the ‘pookkalam’ for the 10th day, to take turns in the swing specially put up for Onam and, of course to take many a selfie.
Games such as ‘dumb charades’ were played under the shade of those tall trees. The hearty laughter at attempts to mime names of never-heard-of Malayalam movies by those from other parts of the country could be heard a few miles away. This continued with a round of riddles, many of them with silly and goofy answers which had everyone in splits again. A scrumptious, mouth-watering feast prepared by Swami Sharadananda ji and his students awaited everyone at lunch time. Seated on the verandas overlooking the courtyard, everyone partook of the delicacies served graciously by the brahmacharis of CIF. Lulled into a happiness only food cooked with love can bring, most could only muster enough energy to get up from their seats and thank the gracious hosts. This was followed by a blissful afternoon spent reliving tales from the good old days and laughing at each other’s jokes.
Everyone parted hoping for the next Onam to be celebrated amongst those who were not around this time. They were sorely missed – by those who stayed back and by ‘Maveli’.