Yet it's certainly a holiday in which all Keralites participate. People of all religions enter the boat race, for instance, and Christians send one another Onam greetings in the local newspaper. Both Christians and Muslims occasionally go to restaurants during Onam to order the Hindu feast (some Hindus do, too), or cook their own Onam dinners, adding their family's favorite dishes to the vegetarian Hindu standards. There's also a wonderful custom of pakarcha ("sharing"), which involves giving food to friends and neighbors of other religions. "We exchange whatever good things we make during a festival," my aunty explains. She used to have a Syrian Christian neighbor who, at Easter, would bring over a stack of scrumptious rice-and-coconut appams, or pancakes, with a stainless-steel tiffin of chicken curry. And every Onam, Aunty would give that neighbor a container full of sweet payasam—a thick, milky pudding made with rice or noodles or, sometimes, legumes. Likewise, my cousin Syamala and her family, who live outside Kochi, give their vegetarian Onam curries to a neighboring Muslim family and in exchange receive a tidy package of pathiri, the Muslim rice-flour flat breads, during the Muslim fasting-and-feasting month of Ramadan.