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The Malayalee Association of Central Florida (MACF) conducts a grand Onam celebration in Tampa every year. MACF Onam celebration is attended by 1,500-2,000 people to enjoy the Onam feast, traditional dances performed by more than 300 participants. Continuing the rich custom, this year due to the pandemic, MACF conducted majestic Onam celebration in virtual format with six types of competition (speech, singing, instrumental, flower rangoli, painting and photo contest).

Onam, a harvest festival celebrated in Kerala, commemorates legendary King Mahabali, whose spirit is believed to visit Kerala during Onam. According to scriptures, King Mahabali belonged to the Asura Dynasty and was an ardent worshipper of Lord Vishnu. Devas became concerned with his growing popularity and requested Lord Vishnu’s help. Lord Vishnu reincarnated into a dwarf Brahmin avatar, Vamana, and attended the yajna hosted by King Mahabali. Vamana requested 3 feet of land and the generous Mahabali promised to give the same. To everybody’s surprise, Vamana grew enormous to the size and claimed the Earth and heaven in two steps. With folded hands, Mahabali offered his head, which pushed him to patala. Lord Vishnu was pleased and granted him a boon. King Mahabali chose to visit his beloved kingdom once a year. Onam is celebrated by the Malayalee community across the globe irrespective of caste, creed or religion. The state festival of Kerala is celebrated for 10 days with various sports and festivities, including worshiping, music, dances and boat races. Onam sadya (feast) is another indispensable part, which contains at least two dozen dishes. 

Story provided by Jayeshkumar Nair (JK), MACF


Jayesh Patel, left, Mayor Jane Castor and Sudhir Shah.

Due to Covid-19 and the shortage of masks, AAHOA (Asian American Hotel Owners Association) members, led by Jayesh Patel and Sudhir Shah, recently raised money to purchase 10,000 surgical masks for Tampa’s first responders and city employees. The masks were graciously accepted by Tampa Mayor Jane Castor. Patel is currently the Director at Large for AAHOA. Previously, he held the Regional Director position from 2010 to 2017. 

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