This Kerala holiday, Onam 2021, celebrates the end of the monsoon season and the beginning of the harvest season. It is a Hindu festival celebrated yearly all over India with its origins in the Kerala state. Onam, one of the state’s most important festivals, lasts for ten days during the Malayalam month of Chingam, bringing people together to celebrate this vibrant and cultural celebration. Onam celebrations are a one-of-a-kind reflection of Kerala’s customs and culture.

The Importance Of The Onam Festival

The origins of the Onam celebration may be traced back to the Sangam period, when Onam was celebrated for a month. This festival of rain flowers was held to commemorate the arrival of Asura King Mahabali’s annual visit from Patala, according to mythology (the world underneath). The storey takes place under the reign of Mahabali (Prahlad’s grandson), a demon king who was noted for his compassion.

The gods saw his growing popularity as a threat and sought Lord Vishnu’s assistance. Lord Vishnu sensed their concern and disguised himself as Vamana, a lowly Brahmin. When he arrived in the demon king’s kingdom, he requested that Mahabali grant him the territory that he can cover in three feet. The monarch, being a generous and compassionate person, granted his wish, and the Vamana began to expand in stature, his first and second steps covering the sky and earth. The demon king stepped up as the brahmin was about to take the third step, telling him to keep his last step on his head, which would lead him to Patala.

However, in exchange for Mahabali’s good deeds, Lord Vishnu granted him the benefit of being able to visit his people once a year, which led to the celebration of the Onam festival in India.

Onam Festival’s Cultural Importance

The Onam festival in Kerala is significant for Hindus, although it is also celebrated by people of other faiths. The huge celebrations and gala of this historic event remove all religious differences and promote social unity. Apart from the hindu rites, the Christians of Kerala are known to celebrate this annual event with zeal. Their rituals include the burning of Nilavilakku, an arati, and Pushparati, which is the waving of flowers over the Bible. They also share a meal with Hindus, symbolising the unity of brothers and sisters of all faiths and beliefs. Kasavu Sarees are the traditional Onam celebration outfit, and you will find them everywhere.

Athachamayam Tripunithura

This is the first day of Onam, which is celebrated with a lot of pomp and circumstance. The day is punctuated by a vibrant inauguration that includes a street parade. This comprises a variety of Kerala art forms, musicians, dancers, carnival floats, and decked elephants strolling through the streets.

Pookalam: Floral Arrangements and Decorations

Pookalam is one of the ways to celebrate the Onam holiday, which is also known as the Flower Festival. This is a rite in which people draw designs on the floor and decorate it with flowers, which is generally done near the entrances to temples and appears like a flower mat.

The Grand Tiger Dance, Pulikali

Pulikali’s literal meaning is ‘the tiger’s play,’ which began almost 200 years ago. The past king of Kochi carried on the tradition of tiger dance, which symbolised manliness. Hundreds of people are painted and outfitted as tigers for the dance, after which they perform a dance to traditional music.

The Snake Boat Race is known as Vallamkali.

The famed boat race that takes place in Kerala is another fascinating aspect of the Onam celebration. The Vallamkali, or snake boat race, is part of a magnificent procession on the Pampa River that also includes the Aranmula Uthrattathi boat race and the Nehru Trophy Boat race. This will leave you feeling ecstatic, so make sure it’s on your to-do list.

Sadya Onam: The Whole Meal

A festival would be incomplete without delectable cuisine, and the Onam festival food is one of a kind, therefore the Onasadya, or “Onam Feast,” is the centrepiece of this 10-day celebration. This is a nine-course meal served on a banana leaf that consists of 11-13 classic dishes. This is a type of worship that begins at 10 a.m. and finishes at 5 p.m. on the last two days.

Folk Dances: The High Point of the Season

A dance performance is a must-see at any festival, and the Onam festival is no exception. A large number of ladies perform folk dances during the festival. Kaikottikali is one of the dancing forms appreciated by King Mahabali. It’s a type of clapping dance. The Thumbi Thualli is another dance genre in which ladies move in circles.

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