- By Rohit
- Dec 20, 2019
Onam is the annual festival celebrated in Kerala and Hindu Malayalis across the world. This festival displays the rich tradition and diverse culture of the state of Kerala. It is a ten day’s festival which is celebrated every year at the end of August and the beginning of September which is also known as Chingam the Malayam month. It is also known as the harvest festival of Kerala. People of Kerala of every age participate and enjoy this festival with equal enthusiasm. The best time to visit Kerala to enjoy the spirit of an Indian festival is the time of Onam.
It is believed that Onam is celebrated to pay the homage to the king Mahabali, who returns home as given bless by the Lord Vishnu. The king Mahabali was a good-hearted king who takes care of his empire in a proper manner but he was an Asur (demon). It is said that during the rule of this king Kerala witnessed a superior time. No one returns an empty hand from the door of this king. There is a myth that the king sacrificed his life in order to stand right to his words, he was pushed deep into the earth by Vamana (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu). Lord Vishnu got impressed with the honesty and generosity of the king and given blessing to the king that he can visit his kingdom once in the year and that’s the reason why Onam got started.
Major Attractions of Onam Celebrations
Fireworks, boat races, magnificent Feasts of elephants, music, and the famous Kathakali dance are traditionally linked with this festival. Major attractions of Onam celebrations are:
Pookkalam - Rangoli made by the different types of flowers. Every day people make pookkalam during the festival. During this festival, Pookalam competitions aslo held to encourage the people.
Onasadya - It is the grand meal day on the last day of the festival. It is a nine-course meal with at least four to five types of vegetables and served on the banana leaf. There are many restaurants that offer thirty dishes for the Onasadya. The varieties of meals differ from house to house but most of the families make maximum dishes to enjoy this festival.
Onakalikal - It is a type of game played during the festival. Men play Talappanthukali, which is a game played with a ball. Apart from this they also play Archery (Ambeyyal). Females enjoy making pookkalam and indulge themselves in traditional dances to imbibe the feel of the festival.
Vallamkali Boat Race - It is a type of boat race that is also known as the snake boat race. In this nearly 100 boatmen compete with each other in a boat riding competition. To witness this race, people come from distant places. Boats are decorated very elegantly and dazzling style.
Elephant Procession - It is the most utmost anticipated event during the Onam festival. Elephants are decorated with ornaments and flowers. They take a round of Thrissur where the festival is held. This majestic animal entertains the people.
Folk Dances - Traditional dance performed by the women. The famous Kathakali dance is performed on the occasion of Onam. Female also sing songs to praise the king Mahabali. Besides this, they also perform the dance in a group which is known as Thumbi Thullal.
Ten Days of Onam
Onam is celebrated for 10 days and each day has its own significance, activities, and name. Following are the ten days of Onam festival:
Day One - Atham
Day Two - Chithira
Day Three - Chodi
Day Four - Vishakam
Day Five - Anizham
Day Six - Thriketa
Day Seven - Moolam
Day eight - Pooradam
Day Nine - Uthradom
Day Ten - Thiruonam
During this festival, people prepare varieties of meals. The meal is served on the banana leaf and people enjoy this food while sitting on the floor and eating with hand without the use of any cutlery. The best Onam recipes are Erissery, Thenga Choru, Pulissery, Pachadi, Avial, Rasam, Paal Payasam, Kalan Kerala Curry, Kadala Curry, Ulli Theeyal and many more. At least 24 dishes are prepared for Onamsadhya.
Onam festival displays the prosperous legacy of Kerala. Females wear white saree with golden borders and male people wear white shirt with golden border dhoti. Ladies look beautiful and elegant. The tranquil backwaters and state of high palms turn in colors during the festival. It is the festival celebrated by every Keralite in spite of any religion with same passion and zeal.