Monday, 21 September 2015

Onathumbi - Globe Skimmer Dragonflies

Though I hail from the south of India, I do not know much about the rituals and their purpose that are followed outside my state, Tamil Nadu.

Recently a pookolam competition was held in our building and all I could think of was Mahabali returning amidst prosperity and equality and all the remaining story of how Vishnu, in the form of Vamana placed his feet on the head of the righteous king Bali.

One more interesting phenomenon associated with Onam is the Onathumbi.

During the season, the Onathumbi or the Globe Skimmer Dragonflies migrate towards Africa.

They form a huge aggregation as they migrate. Crores of dragonflies come together forming large aggregation, in order to keep bee-eaters and other predators away. By the month of October they reach the coast of Maldives and then through multi-generational migration they reach Africa from South India.

The average age of this dragonfly is five months and by the time the migration is complete the aggregation is completely replaced with new members.

The Onathumbi not only helps in pollination of flowers that bloom abundantly in Kerala, leading to the celebration of Onam with ‘kolam’ or designs made out of flowers or ‘poo’, but they also curb the mosquito menace. The dragonfly feeds on mosquitoes and even at the larva stage they feed on mosquito larva.

Every place has its traditional practices, which when seen from outside seems more ritualistic, but when the spirit behind the practice is understood, it is a lesson that can be cherished.

Preserving traditional practices ensures that vital information in the form of these lessons can be passed on from generation to generation!

Our entry for the pookolam competition...