Shepparton's Indian community honoured mythical king Mahabeli at a traditional festival at the weekend.By Estelle Griepink
Shepparton was given a taste of southern Indian culture and cuisine at the weekend when more than 200 members of its Malayalee community took part in a colourful celebration.
Onam is the national festival of Kerala, India, and marks the homecoming of the mythical king Mahabeli, who the Malayalee people consider their king.
They believe the king is so attached to his kingdom he visits annually to see his people living happily.
The Shepparton Onam event included prayer, songs, dancing and tug-of-war.
Program co-ordinator Benny Joseph said he could remember celebrating Onam as a child in Kerala, India.
He said he moved to Shepparton seven years ago and felt it was important to honour cultural traditions.
‘‘We had some nostalgic memories and everyone was celebrating — we hold it every year,’’ Mr Joseph, 40, said.
‘‘The community’s favourite part of the celebration is eating onasadya — this is the most delicious part of the event and is a traditionally vegetarian meal of more than 20 dishes served on a banana leaf.’’
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