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Online slugfest on Onam’s ‘religion’ triggered by Wikipedia page changes

Flower carpet for Onam | Photo credit: iStock Images

Highlights

  • Some publishers have referred to Onam as Hindu festivals.
  • In vigorous retaliation, one user claimed that Onam is a harvest festival and that religion is “intangible” for observing it.

Cochin: Kerala Harvest Festival, Onam is celebrated very majestically in the state. The annual festival is a major event for Malayalis across the world. The celebrations spread over a period of 10 days mark the Malayalam New Year and end on the auspicious day of Thiruvonam.

The popular annual festival has found itself at the center of controversy online. Over the past month, several changes have been made to the content of the Wikipedia page on the Onam Festival. The changes have raised temperatures in cyberspace as they relate to the religious connotation of the Harvest Festival. Since July 31, the page’s content has been edited about 80 times, according to a report by Times of India.

“Nothing to do with religion”

Some users have updated the content of the Wiki page to qualify Onam as a Hindu festival. This caught the attention of a few others who rebuffed attempts to link Onam to Hinduism and claimed it was a secular holiday. “Religion is irrelevant for observing Onam. It is a harvest festival. Nothing to do with religion,” wrote one editor, YOU reported.

Keith D, who is a senior Wikipedia user, has entered the virtual battlefield to end the fight against Onam. He suspended a few new Wiki editors and closed the Onam page.

Onam virtual celebrations

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has pushed Onam’s celebrations into virtual space. Last week, Kerala Tourism Minister PA Mohammed Riyas said the Tourism Department would celebrate Onam virtually this year to bring Malayalis from around the world together on a digital platform following travel restrictions induced by the pandemic.

“Events that showcase tourist destinations, art and culture and food diversity will be organized using visual media,” adding that the Ministry of Tourism will also organize online competitions on this occasion. Thanks to this, Malayalees around the world can be a part of the celebrations, ”the minister said, quoting the ANI news agency.

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