Spice of life

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The Independent Online
The South Indian Onam festival is coming to Stoke Newington in north-east London. Traditionally celebrated in the south-western state of Kerala, it welcomes the mythical return of a benevolent king, who once ruled the region.

Kerala is a lush and culturally-rich area, home of the spectacular Katha- kali dance. The event has been organised by Das Padmanabhan, proprietor of the only exclusively Keralan restaurant in Britain. Rasa restaurant will be the focus for the celebratory feast - with many vegetarian dishes based around ingredients such as rice, coconuts, tamarind, pumpkins, snake gourd, drumsticks and the many spices indigenous to the region. The feast will be followed by live performances in Lancell Street. Hackney Council has given its blessing to the festival, and the event has been officially recognised by the Indian High Commission and Keralan state authorities. Tickets cost pounds 20 per evening, bookable in advance.

Among the performances will be a display of classical Kathakali dance by Unnikrishnan, one of the world's leading practitioners, and a display of Keralan Mohiniatham dance, accompanied by classical Indian music. There will also be demonstrations of the spectacular Keralan martial art Kalaripayattu, which uses swords but no protective clothing. Ticket-holders will be entered for a prize draw to win a holiday for two in Kerala.


Rasa, 55 Stoke Newington Church St, London N16 (0171-249 0344) 6-9 Sept