Happy Onam!

Asura is typically construed as evil, and is used interchangeably with Danavas, Daityas and Rākshasās, mainly because in English, they are all demons! But all asuras were not considered evil. Here are some of the niruktas (etymologies) of the root word asu

Asu can mean, prana – life breath, life- force; in this sense, asura means ‘one who brings, gives prana’ (asun, pranan rati, dadati iti asurah).

Asu can mean, kshepana – to throw, throw about, scatter, remove away; in this sense, asura can mean ‘one who removes undesirable things and dangers’ (anishtakshepanasheelah); by the same sense it can also mean ‘time’, since ‘time moves or scatters everything (asyati, kshipati sarvamityasurah – kaalatmaa samvatsarah)’.

Asu can mean, prajna – awareness, wisdom; thus, asura can mean, ‘one who is endowed with wisdom or awareness’.

Asu can mean, bala – strength, force; thus, asura can mean ‘one who is endowed with a great strength’.

Likewise, asura has been used to connote ‘someone who is very charitable’; at some places asura is used to mean, megha- clouds.

Asu also can mean food, water and wealth, and the word asura attains various meanings in accordance with those connotations to denote, ‘one who possesses food’ etc.

The word asura referred to both inner tendencies, as well as clans. Bhakt Prahlad was born into the asura clan of Hiranyakashyapu, but he wasn’t evil. 

अस्यति देवान् क्षिपति इति असुर: – the ones who oppose suras or devas, are asuras.

In fact, King Mahabali (who was an Asura) is still worshipped in India – the festival of Onam is in his honor.

Neil Armstrong wasn’t the first person to land on the moon…

KuttiChettan was.

While this joke has been done to death, it does one thing – show the enterprising spirit of the Malayali. And for us in the Gulf, this is more than evident, given the range of businesses that are run by Malayali entrepreneurs. 

From the morning sulaimani, to the Lulu Hypermarket, from Aster Medical to the neighbourhood grocery…Aapams to chicken stew, Shawarma to Burj Khalifa (thats a juice btw), every aspect of our life in the Gulf has been touched by them. Always working, far from home, yet eager to do more. Taking responsibility, implementing new ideas, 

If this isn’t an entrepreneur, I don’t know what is. 

And so today, on the auspicious occasion of Onam, I stand with all Indians, and all residents of the Gulf region, to greet them – to celebrate with them, and to thank them for inspiring us – 

തിരുവോണപ്പുലരിയിൽ തിരുമുൽക്കാഴ്ചവാങ്ങാൻ തിരുമുറ്റമണിഞ്ഞൊരുങ്ങി…തിരുമേനിയെഴുന്നള്ളും സമയമായി… ഹൃദയങ്ങളണിഞ്ഞൊരുങ്ങി… ഓണാശംസകൾ…

Onam Ashamsakal!