Onam is a grand spectacle for every Malayalee. It’s a time for family get-togethers, feasts, songs, and dance. It is one of the biggest and the most significant festival of Kerala which falls during the Malayalam month of Chingam i.e between August and September. Primarily Onam marks the homecoming of the beloved mythical king Mahabali but it is also a carnival that marks the harvest season and start of a brand new year for Malayali.
Every Malayali no matter where he is makes it a point to celebrate the festival in a way he/she can. These are a few reasons why Onam is the best celebration of Kerala with immense pomp and splendor.
The first and foremost one is that it is a 10-day long festival
Onam is just not any festival it is part new year and part harvest season
It is the homecoming of the wisest, judicious and generous to have ever ruled the land of Kerala, King Mahabali. The story goes that even the Devas became extremely concerned and jealous of his popularity as he was turning Kerala into another heaven.
Onam is secular and is celebrated by every Malayalee community irrespective of their caste community and religion.
Every Onam is flagged off with a grand spectacle and a grand carnival. Vallam Kali where around 50 boats participate in a boat rowing competition and Atha Chamayam which is a grand parade and carnival of colorful tableaus
The 10 days long celebration is filled with floral carpet display known as Pookalam in Malayalam for giving a grand welcome to the beloved King Mahabali
Of course, feasting is part of every Malayalee festival. The grand feast will have at least 27 lip smacking dishes served on the banana leaf that is only consumed using hands, sitting cross-legged on the floor. The feast also includes a variety of Payasam as dessert
Gifts are an inseparable part of the festival of Onam in Kerala. Onakodi is a practice of gifting new clothes such as Munduveshti / kasav sari etc which is the most popular form of gifting during Onam
All Malayalees, be it from the young generation or older generation, are all draped in the traditional Kerala attire for the occasion. The women wear a traditional Kerala set mundu / Kasavu saree- white in colour with a gold border, and the men wear white/ cream color Kasavu mundu along with Kurta/Shirt
Being the festival of dances most of the traditional dances of Kerala are a part of the Onam festival Thiruvathirakali, Kummattikali, Pulikali, Thumbi Thullal, Onapottan and Kathakali
Although slowly losing the significance, a few games such as Vadamvali, Kayyankali, Attakalam, Kutukutu, Ambeyyal and Talappanthukali are a few traditional games that were played during Onam in Kerala.’