Onam Festival Celebration Tradition and Rituals in Kerala India

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Travel Features >> Onam Festival Celebration Tradition and Rituals in Kerala India

Onam Festival Celebration Tradition and Rituals in Kerala India

September 05, 2016

The Onam festival is the biggest and the most popular festival of Kerala. It is a harvest festival and celebrated since time immemorial. The festival is observed with great zeal and vigour in all communities of the state of Kerala though the Onam traditions vary from region to region. Onam festival date fall in the beginning of the month of Chingam, which is the first month of Kollavarsham, the Malayalam calendar.Onam festival generally falls in the month of August or September.

The Story Behind Onam Celebration in Kerala
Kerala was in its golden era, when it was ruled by the demon king, Mahabali. He was highly praised and admired for his ruling style and people were happy in his kingdom. He had only one shortcoming that he was egoistic. The popularity of the king was challenged by the gods and he lost the fight. But owing to the good deeds he did for his kingdom, gods granted him a boon that he could visit his people once a year. This visit of King Mahabali is celebrated as Onam ever year.

Onam Festival Dates
Onam celebration in Kerala lasts from 4 to 10 days. The first day, Athem and the tenth day, Thiruonam are the most popular of all the days. The first Onam falls on September 13 in the year 2016.

Onam Celebration
This festival is truly a delight to watch. The rich culture of Kerala, folk songs,traditional dance, extravagant local delicacies meals, decked up boats and elephants and adorned houses will give you a complete feel of the grand festival. The people of Kerala also take a break from work for Onam celebration.

Onam Rituals
It is a gala celebration of 10 days, the first day being Atham. On this day, everybody in the house gets up early, cleans the house and adorn themselves in new attires and gold jewellery. Children of the house gather flowers for the main ritual of the day, AthaPookalam. East corner of the house is specially cleaned and cowdung is spread over it. Then it is further decorated with flowers and flower petals. A heap of cowdung is placed in the middle that symbolizes Lord Ganesha. Flowers are added daily on this cowdung structure making it look massive by the tenth day. Onam rituals also include singing traditional songs to welcome king Mahabali and safeguard and bless them with wealth, prosperity and well-being.

People of Kerala are very particular about the rituals and Onam traditions. Oonjal is another ritual that is followed during Onam festival. A swing is hanged on the high branch of a tree and beautifully bejeweled with colorful flowers. Traditional songs are sung and people enjoy swinging on it by turns. Owing to its popularity, various folk songs have been devoted to this Onam ritual.

Lavish feasts are arranged on the third day and people invite their loved ones for meals. Rice forms the main dish along with curry, kheer and curd, all served on banana leaves. Feast held on the tenth day is the most awaited part of the festival. It is lavish buffet where an extensive local traditional meal is prepared and served with love to everybody.

Onam Activities
Men and women both take part in Onam activities. Various games are also played during Onam. While men indulge in activities like Talappanthukali, a game played with ball, Ambeyyal (Archery Game), kutukutu and combats called Kayyankali and Attakalam women indulge in cultural activities. Intricately designed flower mats, pookalam are made to welcome King Mahabali. Traditional and folk dances make the festival all the most joyful and jubilated.

Onam is declared as the state festival of Kerala and it is truly a perfect occasion to spend some quality time with the loved one and enjoy the sumptuous traditional meals.

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