» Celebrated In : Kerala
» Significance : Harvest Festival of Kerala
» Duration : 10 Days
» Held In : August / September
The national festival of Kerala. It is celebrated in the malayalam month of Chingham. Many myths surround this festival. The most important is that Onam celebrates the return of the legendary king Mahabali who ruled over a golden age. Another myth is about Cheraman Perumal who accepted the Muslim faith. Onam marks the month of harvest suggesting prosperity and happiness all around. It is a ten-day long festival, starting from the day of Atham. People decorate their yards with floral carpets during these days.
Each and everyone dressed in their new clothes assemble in their homes for the traditional Onam meal. The vegetarian meal eaten on a banana leaf contains traditional dishes, pappad and payasam(sweet). The meal is followed by other activities like dance, games and boat race. The ladies perform the Kaikkottikkali (a dance form). Onathallu or Kayyangali, Thallu and Onappada, which is a martial art for entertainment, are performed as part of the Onam celebrations. Onathallu conducted at Kurumbranattu and Kunnamkulam are quite famous.
The Harvest Festival – Onam
Onam, the harvest festival is the most popular festival of Kerala. A festival that celebrates a happy blend of myth and reality, Onam is part of the cultural repertoire of every Malayalee.
It brings back nostalgic memories, carried on the wings of folklore, of a bygone Utopian era of prosperity, equality and righteousness, under the golden reign of Mahabali. Year after year, for centuries, the people of Kerala, irrespective of caste, creed or colour, join together to welcome back their vanquished king. The ten-day Onam festival falls in August-September, coinciding with the beginning of the harvest season.
The Legend – Onam Festival
According to local belief, in a war that took place between the gods and the demons, the demons won. Deeply hurt by the defeat of the gods, Aditi, their mother prayed to Lord Vishnu to destroy Mahabali, the demon king.
Consequently, Lord Vishnu, in the guise of a Brahmin boy, Vamanan, went to Mahabali and asked him to grant him three steps of land. The wish was granted and Vamanan covered the whole land with his two steps and then he came back to the King asking him where can he place the third step.
The king to honour his word, offered his head as the third step. Vamanan pushed Mahabali deep down into the earth. Pleased by his honesty and generosity, the lord in turn granted him a wish that he could he could visit his kingdom and people on a particular day once a year.
The Festivity – Onam Festival in Kerala
Preparation of a floral carpet called “Athappookkalam” in front of houses, from the first day of ‘Atham’ to the tenth day of ‘Thiruvonam’ is part of the festivities, which is a symbolic gesture to welcome King Mahabali.
The state government conducts Tourism Week celebrations in connection with Onam, showcasing the gems of Kerala’s culture. Onam resonates with Carnivals, Boat Races, Dance, Music and Feast.
A sumptious meal on plantain leaf and the traditional sweet dish of Kerala ‘Payasam’ etc are served in every house The pomp and pageantry of Onam reflects the Keralite’s zest for all the beautiful things of life.