Onam Celebrations 

Onam is the biggest festival in the Indian state of Kerala. Numerous festivals are celebrated in kerala,yet Onam is of prime importance and celebrated by people all over the state irrespective of religion .Onam Festival falls during the Malayali month of Chingam (Aug – Sep) and marks the homecoming of legendary King Mahabali. Onam is the harvest festival in Kerala.

Onam festival begins 10 days prior to actual date of festival. People start decorating their residences with beautiful flower arrangements days before the occasion. Onasadhya is prepared on the last day of Onam, called Thiruonam. People of Kerala wish to depict that they are happy and prosperous to their dear King Mahabali whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam.

Ten days of feasting, boat races, songs and dance are part of the festivities. Pookalam or floral decoration at the entrance of each house marks each day. Earthen mounds, which look like square pyramids, representing Mahabali and Vishnu are also placed in the dung-plastered courtyards. After traditional prayers and worship, the head of the household presents new clothes to the family and friends. This is followed by a lavish feast.

 

Dancing and sports also takes precedence this week. Certain dances like Kaikotikalli, are traditionally associated with Onam. Caparisoned elephants in spectacular procession, fireworks are also an integral part of the festivities. The Vallamkalli or the boat race is another event that is synonymous with Onam and is best seen at Aranmulla and Kottayam. About 100 oarsmen row huge and graceful snake boats and men and women come from far and near to watch the snake boats skim through the water.

Rangoli is considered very auspicious due to which it is an inevitable part of Hindu festivals. In kerala ‘Pookalam’ or the flower rangoli marks the festival of Onam.  ‘Poo’ means ‘flower’ and ‘Kalam’ means artwork. Floral Rangoli or the ‘Onam Kolam’ is a very important part of the Onam celebrations. 

Rich and the poor, everybody prepares Onasadya in a grand fashion as people of Kerala are extremely devotional and passionate when it comes to Onasadya.

This festival is also important because of its secular character.

Happy Onam friends !!

Devi Venkatesan

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