BENDIGO'S Malayalee community is keeping COVID-19 restrictions in mind as they celebrate an important festival.
The traditional Onam Harvest Festival - which commemorates the mythical king Mahabali - is usually celebrated through folk songs, dances, drumming, and a vegetarian banquet meal.
But with coronavirus restrictions limiting gatherings, the Bendigo Malayalee Association had to be creative about this year's celebrations.
The association, in partnership with Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services, has created packs for community members in Bendigo.
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A person signifying the king Mahabali will deliver the packs - which include hand sanitiser, reusable masks, and treats - over the next few days.
"This is an attempt to reach out and offer support to individuals and families, and spread the knowledge of safety against COVID-19," Multicultural Services board member Joby Sebastian said.
"The Malayalee community is a growing migrant community in Bendigo. Most of the community members work on the front line of the pandemic in the health sector so they have knowledge of the pandemic."
Bendigo Malayalee Association president Johny Mattathil said it was great that cultural celebrations could continue even during COVID-19.
"Instead of coming all together and doing it together, each family will be celebrating in their own homes," he said. "Instead of the king coming to visit the community as a whole, he will visit each home.
"The major focus is on reinforcing that COVID-19 message."
Throughout the pandemic, Malayalee community leaders have been reaching out to families, young people, and international students who have been isolated.
Mr Mattathil said it was important everyone helped each other during this challenging year.
"The community is really excited and appreciative of these celebrations," he said. "We see this as a model that can be replicated across the region."
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