One of the biggest festivals of South India, Onam is celebrated in Kerala to mark the homecoming of King Mahabali. He was one of the most benevolent kings to rule Kerala who sacrificed almost everything for the benefit of his people. It is believed that during this festival, he visits the Earth to bless and see if his subjects are living happily. It’s celebrated in the month of August-September which is the first month of the year according to the Malayali Calendar.
It spans for 10 days with great splendour, liveliness, and entertainment. The history and culture of Kerala are brought along with designing gorgeous flower carpets, preparing a sumptuous meal, magnificent boat race and the attractive Puli Kali and Kaikottikkali Dance
1. Athachamayam Festival
The grand 10-day celebration kicks off with Athachamayam festival that features a street parade accompanied by decorated elephants and floats, musicians and various traditional Kerala art forms.
2. Pookalam Competition
There is multi-coloured flower decoration (also called ‘Pookalam’) made in the porch area of the houses. Stunning designs are created using flowers and it looks oh-so-breathtaking! Various communities conduct Pookalam competition and it’s a sight worth seeing.
A grand luxurious meal is prepared on the third day Thiruonam. There is a tale why the people of Kerala prepare the grand lunch, they want Mahabali to feast at their homes. This is usually a feast served on banana leaves and serves rice along with at least an array of 26 dishes. The meal includes brown rice and papadum (papad). Sambha, Avial, Parippucurry, Rasam and Payasam (kheer).
A happy meal for the happy occasion 🙂
4. Puli Kali Tiger Play
It’s like a street drama performed to entertain people where grown up men dress up like tigers and dance to the beat of traditional tunes. This part of the festival is taken pretty seriously and it takes almost 4 hours for each one to dress up. Looks like it’s the longest time in the entire year, men give to dress up! 😛 BTW, there are great prizes for the best dressed and danced tiger so it’s worth the effort!
One of the quirkiest festivals, we say!
5. Aranmula Snake Boat Race
In which other festival would you find the tradition of serious games? Well, the highlight of the festival is the Snake Boat Race or Vallamkali! Almost 50 boats are seen competing after the religious rituals are over which starts in the afternoon. This also has the religious significance to it as it commemorates the installation of the idol of Lord Krishna at the nearby Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple.
How adorable it is to have also involved animals in the celebrations! The majestic animal is decorated with flowers but also GOLD! They are then made to take a round of Thrissur where the procession is held. The happy elephant then dances in joy and interacts with the people around.
A grand affair, indeed!
What’s the point of having a festival when there is no song and drama around it! With Onam being so entertaining, it had to involve a traditional dance. Women dance and sing to praise King Mahabali and are seen dancing in two forms-one being Kaikottikali which is clap dancing and the other being Thumbi Thullal which has women dancing in a circle.
Indians need an excuse to buy clothes and jewelry and what’s better than a festival! The There’s a tradition of purchasing new clothes for the festival, also called Onakkodi. Men dress up in a white dhoti with golden or a colourful border (mundu) and women usually, wear white sari with golden border (Kasavu saris). Most of the women are seen glamming up the saris with golden temple jewelry.
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