Festivals and Ethnic Identity in Transnational Space: Onam among Malayalee Diaspora in Canada

Author Name

Lijo Lal


Festivals, Ethnic Identity , Transnational


Celebration of festivals that bring happiness and unity to the whole community is a significant part of the socio-cultural life of diasporas across the globe. The present paper tries to explore how Onam is celebrated in the transnational space of Canada as part of maintaining the ethnic identity of the Malayalee Diaspora in Canada. The Malayalee diaspora in Canada celebrates numerous festivals that integrate them, the major among them being Onam, the national festival of Kerala. Onam is celebrated from August - September every year. It is based on brotherhood and celebrated by all, irrespective of caste, religion, and other differences. During the festival, diasporic communities share cultural unity. The Diaspora organizations celebrate Onam with significant attractions of Pookkalam, Impersonation of Mahabali, Chendamelam, Traditional dressing, and most importantly, Sadya. Both primary and secondary data were collected and analyzed. Primary data were collected through interviews with Canadian Malayalee immigrants. It is found that Onam helps the Malayalee diaspora in Canada maintain their ethnic identity. The active participation of individuals and associations in the Onam celebration shows their interest in maintaining ethnic identity and culture.


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