Now this is significant because Shah’s BJP is part of the larger RSS family called the Sangh Parivar which has its offshoots and branches in various forms across the country. This includes Sasikala’s HAV.

The reaction from Malayalis to Shah’s message was swift: #PoMoneShaji (Go take a hike Amit Shah!) began trending on Twitter and senior political leaders from Kerala lampooned him.

Of course, Shah may have an alibi up his sleeve: some Hindu communities, particularly in northern India, observed Vaman Jayanti Ekadashi on Sept. 13. Indeed today (Sept. 14), on Onam day, Shah sent out a separate Onam message.

While Vaman Jayanti and Onam may share the legend of lord Vishnu and Mahabali, the subtext obviously varies much.

“Historically speaking, it may be true that Onam was originally Vaman Jayanti. But Kerala’s culture broke away from that tradition in rebellion against Brahminism by making Onam about Mahabali not Vaman,” said Kumar, who is also the founder of Folklife Kerala, an organisation dedicated to the conservation of the state’s folk and tribal art forms. “And this could be an attempt to reverse history and North-Indianise Kerala culture.”

And going by precedent, it is unlikely that Shah is unaware of the import of his messages or the ripples it could create.

But however much Shah and his Tweedledees and Tweedledums try to raise a stink, there are a few exquisite aromas that keep us going: that smell of the first monsoon rain, that of fresh toddy, and of course the sadhya.

We Malayalis will remember the awful taste of that toxic mud has left in our Onam feast this year. They have tried to mar the very core of our existence. We shall never forgive. We shall never forget.

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