Onam is a harvest festival celebrated by the people of Kerala, India irrespective of religion. Onam Festival falls during the Malayali month of Chingam (Aug - Sep) and marks the homecoming of legendary King Mahabali. Onam is a reminiscent of Kerala's agrarian past, as its considered to be harvest festival. Onam is a harvest festival and celebrates the reward of nature after a year of hard work.
Onam is celebrated in the memory of King Mahabali. The people also believe that during Onam, the King returns to Kerala to pay a visit to his people.
Celebrations are done all over world where malayalee stays.Importance of onam begins with pookkalam,vallamkali, and lot of festivals connecting onam are there Pookalam a flower mat is visible outside every house. This mat is a symbol of welcoming King Mahabali.Vallamkali or a great boat race is an attractive feature of this festival. In this game hundreds of men row the boats to the beat of drums and cymbals
There is also a tradition to play games, collectively called Onakalikal, on Onam. Men go in for rigorous sports like Talappanthukali (played with ball), Women indulge in cultural activities.Onam is celebrated not only by Hindus but also by Christians and Muslims.It is one such festival that unites all the people regardless of race and religion.
Carnival of Onam lasts from four to ten days. First day, Atham and tenth day, Thiruonam are most important of all. Popularity and presentation of rich culture of the state during the carnival made Onam the National Festival of Kerala in 1961. Elaborate feasts, folk songs, elegant dances, energetic games, elephants, boats and flowers all are a part of the dynamic festival called Onam.
Government of India has taken due notice of this vibrant and colorful festival. It promotes Onam internationally in a big way and celebrates 'Tourist Week' for Kerala during Onam celebrations. Thousands of domestic and foreign tourists visit Kerala to be a part of Onam.
Mahabali's rule is considered the golden era of Kerala.
Onam Day Activities
The most important things about Onam are the onakkodi, the new clothes worn on this day and onasadya, a feast which is quite elaborate. This is usually a feast served on banana leaves and serves rice along with at least an array of 4 dishes. Traditional pickles and papadam are also served. Dessert is usually 'payasam', a sweet dish made of milk, sugar and other traditional Indian savories.
During Onam, people create a multi-coloured floral decoration on the ground in the front of their home called pookkalam. Young children especially girls are often entrusted with the task of gathering and laying out the flowers in elaborate patterns. Competitions are held on onam day to create this floral design. A lamp is usually placed as part of the design. In the recent years, the floral designs have evolved from the traditional circular shape to unique designs depicting different cultural and social aspects of Kerala life.
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The most important part of thiruvonam is the 'Thiruona Sadya'. Sadhya is a vegetarian feast or banquet. The multi course meal is served traditionally in banana leaf. The sadya has steamed rice as the main ingredient served with many sidedishes.The sideitems served in the sadya may vary from region to region
There can be anywhere between 13-25 dishes for Onam and this number can be higher.
The most common Onam Dishes are:-
3. Parippu Curry
7. Thoran – Cabbage, Beans, Cabbage & Carrot, Kovakka
9. Inji Curry
13. Kootu Curry
15. Pachadi – Pineapple Pachadi, Ripe Plantain (NenthraPazham) Pachadi, Vellarikka Pachadi
17. Mulaka Pachadi
24. Payasam – Semiya Payasam, Sharkkara Payasam, Aval Payasam
25. Pradhaman – Mambazha Pradhaman