Celebration of euphoric, colorful, healthy, and wealthy Onam
Onam is the biggest festival in Kerala celebrated for 10 days in the month of Chingam falls between August and September. During Onam, people used to do boat races, traditional dances like Kathakali, tiger dance, and many more. The indispensable part of the function is the Onam Sadya, more than 9 varieties of Vegetarian meals are served in the banana leaf as a part of the tradition.
History of Onam festival
It is believed that Onam was celebrated by Kulasekara Perumal around 800 years ago. Some suggest that it was also celebrated in the 2nd century, not in Kerala but the neighboring state or some believe, it originated from outside the country.
Story of Onam
Prahlada had a son named Mahabali who took the control of three worlds earth, heaven, and hell after defeating all the gods. All other gods approached Lord Vishnu to fight against Mahabali, but he refused to do so. He is a good ruler and his devotee. This made Lord Vishnu stand with Mahabali.
Later, Mahabali performed a ritual promise after winning all the gods, and he vowed to give anyone any request. To test Mahabali’s devotion against him, Lord Vishnu approached him as a dwarf boy named Vamana.
Vamana asked a wish to Mahabali if he needs the land whichever he covers in three steps. Mahabali agreed to give the same to Vamana. When Vamana was asked to walk by Mahabali, he suddenly grew giant and covered all the land and water in the first step, the sky in the second step, and the third step Lord Vishnu trampled Mahabali into hell. This ended the rule of Mahabali in the three worlds.
Even though Mahabali was sent to hell, Lord Vishnu was pleased by the devotion of the king, and he was allowed to visit Kerala once a year to ensure that his people are happy and well-fed. And the day of the return of the Mahabali king to Kerala is celebrated as Onam.
When is the Onam festival celebrated?
Onam is celebrated at the start of the Chingam month of the Malayalam calendar, and it is the first month in their calendar. And it lies between August and September in the English calendar. This festival happens for 10 days in which young, middle-aged and old people participate with the same enthusiasm.
This year it is celebrated from August 30, 2022 – September 8, 2022.
How the Onam festival is celebrated?
The festival is celebrated with traditional dance, prayers, cultural programs, boat races, and other dance performances with floral designs such as Rangoli and ends with special rituals.
Each day is celebrated with some special tradition
Day 1 – Atham
On Atham, all Keralites will take bath in the early morning and decorate the front of the house with floral design rangoli and welcome the king Mahabali.
Day 2 – Chithira
On the second day, extra layers are added to the floral design rangoli and also people will clean their houses and visit the temple.
Day 3 – Chodhi
On the third day, another layer is added to the floral designs rangoli, and people will start buying jewelry and new dresses for their families.
Day 4 – Vishakam
From Vishakam the main festival of Onam starts with Onam Sadya. In Onam Sadya more than nine varieties of vegetarian food are served in banana leaves. The maximum number of dishes will end up to 26 to 30.
Day 5 – Anizham
On Anizham, a traditional snake boat race named Vallamkali is held on the sacred Pampa River in a grand parade.
Day 6 – Thriketa
On Thriketa, people from other places visit their ancestral homes, and families exchange gifts with each other
Day 7 – Moolam
Families visit each other homes and prepare small Sadya on Moolam day.
Day 8 – Pooradam
Same like Thriketa, people from other regions visit their ancestral places on this day and exchange gifts with each other. Extra layers of flowers are added to the Rangoli.
Day 9 – Uthradam
It is believed that King Mahabali visit Kerala on this day and the Onam celebration will reach its peak. People do final shopping for the Onam celebration.
Day 10 – Thiruvonam
Thiruvonam is the final day of Onam and people will apply rice flour batter to the entrance of the home as a welcome sign. People will wear new clothes and celebrate the special day with dance, music, and fireworks, and ends the day by donating to the poor and needy.
Special places in Kerala to celebrate Onam
Trivandrum, Ernakulam, and Palakkad where Onam celebrations will take place in a great manner.
In Trivandrum, the city will be decorated with lights and Rangoli where you can walk and get mesmerized by the view.
In Ernakulam, festivities feature with the parade, decorated with elephants and also with various traditional Kerala art.
Onnathallu, a special wrestling game that is practiced in Kerala takes place in Palakkad. People can witness the great game of wrestling.
On the whole, getting into the celebration of Onam makes you understand the tradition of the Southern part of India with rich traditional culture with great food and beautiful God own state of Kerala.