Social media is awash with Onam greetings, quite expectedly. Still, the one appeared on a Member of New Zealand’s Parliament took many by surprise on Tuesday, on the eve of Thiruvonam, the biggest festival for Malayalis across the globe.
The greetings came from New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who appeared in a Facebook video posted by Priyanca Radhakrishnan, the Labour Party MP from Maungakiekie, Auckland.
Priyanca, in fact, is the first Malayali ever to be elected to the New Zealand Parliament. She was born in Chennai though her family hails from Paravur, Ernakulam.
Ms. Arden, who became the youngest Prime Minister of New Zealand at the age of 37 two years ago, also thanked in her message the Malayalis in her country for their contribution to the diverse communities.
In the same video, which has also been appreciated by people from outside the Malayali community, Priyanca gave her Onam greetings in English as well as Malayalam.
Priyanca, who grew up in Singapore, reached New Zealand in 2006 as a student. Her first bid to enter the Parliament didn’t succeed though, in 2014.
In an interview, she had said that politics was in her blood. “My great grandfather was very active in left wing progressive politics in India and played an instrumental role in the formation of the State of Kerala,” she had said after she was fielded as a candidate by the Ms. Arden-led Labour Party.
Following her victory, she introduced a new language to the New Zealand parliament. “Ella suhruthukkalkkum ente sneham niranja snehaashamsakal. Ellavarrkum ente nandi ariyikkunnu,” she said in Malayalam (“My wishes to everyone and I wish to thank all of you”).
“I believe that this is the first time my mother tongue has been spoken in this House,” she said.
Last June, in a cabinet reshuffle, Priyanca was appointed the Parliament Private Secretary for Ethnic Affairs.
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