Onam - Festival of Kerala
Onam - the festival
Onam is a Hindu festival that is observed as the state festival of Kerala. It’s celebrated somewhere between August and September, specifically during the Malayalam month of Chingam which is the first month of the Malayalam calendar. The ten day Onam festival is considered to be flagged off with a Royal Parade that depicts all the elements of Kerala. It’s usually placed in the believed capital of King Mahabali; Thrikkakara temple in Kochi. The rich culture and heritage are put on display during the festival, especially on the first day, Atham, the tenth and final day, Thiru-Onam.
- Pookalam competitions are a common sight on Onam day. The floral carpet, known as ‘Onapookkalam’, is made with several varieties of flowers for decoration purpose. Once its completed, a miniature pandal hung with little festoons is erected over it.
- The Onam sadya is a feast containing 26 dishes, served on plantain leaves. It is quite a quintessential event, enough to validate the popular Malayalam proverb ‘One must have the Onam lunch even if one is forced to sell his property’.
- Traditional dance forms : Thiruvathira, Kummattikali, Pulikali, Thumbi Thullal etc. are performed all over Kerala at this time along with Onam songs and percussion instrument shows.
- The Vallamkali is the famous snake boat race where at least a hundred oarsemen row huge and graceful boats.
- The swing is another integral part of Onam, especially in the rural areas. Young men and women rock one another on swings slung from high branches.
- Handloom fairs that celebrate the creativity of potters and weavers are another important aspect of the festival.
- The festival normally ends on the tenth day, Thiruvonam but in some cases, the two following days are celebrated as Third and Fourth Onam.
- Onam marks the commemoration of Vamana avatar of lord Vishnu and the subsequent homecoming of the mythical King Mahabali who Malayalees consider as their King. It is celebrated with vigour, in and out, by everyone.