What is Onam?
Onam is an annual Harvest festival in the state of Kerala, India. It falls on the 22nd Nakshatra Thiruvonam in the Malayalam calendar( month of Chingam), which in Gregorian calendar overlaps with August–September. This famous festival is considered a very cheerful festival as it brings prosperity, cheer, and happiness in the lives of the natives in God’s Own Country. The main attraction of Onam is the Onam feast. Onam feast, According to legends, the festival is celebrated to commemorate King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam.
Onam is a major annual event for Keralites. It is a harvest festival, one of three major annual Hindu celebrations along with Vishu and Thiruvathira, and it is observed with numerous festivities. Onam celebrations include Vallam Kali (boat race), Pulikali (tiger dance), Pookkalam (flower Rangoli), Onathappan (worship), Onam Kali, etc. Thumbi Thullal, Kummattikali Onathallu (martial arts), Kazhchakkula (plantain offerings), Onapottan (costumes), Atthachamayam (folk songs and dance), and other celebrations are also practiced in different parts of Kerala.
Onam is considered the official state festival of Kerala with public holidays.
Legend of Onam
Onam is all about the legend, King Mahabali. He was a benevolent ruler of Kerala who was a virtuous ruler devoted to serving his subjects. As everyone praised his magnanimity and eventually, the Gods of Heaven became envious of this fame and reputation. Lord Vishnu decided to settle the revolt of Gods against King Mahabali. He assumed the avatar of a dwarf named Vaman and appeared before Mahabali. He wished for a piece of land that he will cover in 3 paces. Mahabali readily granted his wish and then Vamana grew up and covered Mahabali’s entire kingdom in two paces. For the third pace, Mahabali submitted himself with which. Vishnu was pleased with his offering and granted him a wish. His only wish was to visit his subjects once every year and the day of his visit is celebrated as ‘Onam’.
The celebrations include Athapookalam or flower arrangement, Onam Sadhya or feast, boat races that are all synonymous with Onam gaiety.
Pookkalam or flower arrangement
Flower arrangement is a grand event in the Onam celebration. Women create Pookkalam using different colors of flowers. Markets are flooded with plenty of varieties of flowers during the season that can be used to design Pookkalams during Onam.
Onam Sadhya or Onam Feast
The delicious Onam Sadhya is a feast with vegetarian dishes served with rice on banana leaves. You will have plenty of different vegetables cooked deliciously. There are also sweet puddings and porridges called Paysams served after food.
Shops and malls are flooded with Onam offers and discounts during this time. People shop well on Onam and buy new clothes and jewelry. People purchase traditional wear that is used on a festive occasion.
The snake boat race is a grand event in Kerala and an integral part of the Onam celebrations. Different teams race each other on long snake-shaped boats for the trophy. There are famous boat races such as the Nehru Trophy boat race conducted in Kerala during the Onam season.