The vibrant festival of Onam is one of the most popular and significant harvest festivals of Kerala. It is essentially a ten-day festival celebrated with great fervor all over the state between August and September. The festival is essentially celebrated by the people to welcome the homecoming of their dearest legendry King Mahabali into their homes. It is believed that the spirit of the king visits the homes of the people at the time of Onam. During the festival, various activities are organized such as boat racing, music, dance, fireworks and lots more.
History of Onam Festival
Onam festival is celebrated by the people of Kerala in the belief of homecoming of the greatest King Mahabali. He was the grandson of Prahlad (son of Hiranyakashyap who was killed by the Lord Vishnu in his Narasimha Avatara) and considered as the great king of Kerala. He ruled underworld by getting order of Lord Vishnu and visited his subjects one time in a year which is now celebrate as Onam. Mahabali was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu from his childhood because of his grandfather.King Mahabali was booned by the Lord Vishnu for his devotion and granted to rule over the underworld as well as hold position of Indra for one Manvantara. He was also granted permission by the Lord to visit his subjects once a year. So, people of Kerala celebrate this festival to commemorate King Mahabali.Another belief of celebrating this festival is, Parasurama (incarnation of Lord Vishnu) who have founded the Kerala. It is believed that he saved Kerala from sea-bed by throwing his battle-axe which was travelled from Gokarnam to Kanyakumari (North to South).
When is Thiru Onam?
Onam carnival continues for ten days, starting from the day of Atham and culminating on Thiru Onam. Atham and Thiru Onam are the most important days for Onam festivities. The day of Atham is decided by the position of stars. Onam festival commences from lunar asterism (a cluster of stars smaller than a constellation) Atham (Hastha) that appears ten days before asterism Onam or Thiru Onam. Atham is regarded as an auspicious and holy day by people of Kerala. Thiru Onam corresponds to the Shravan day in the month of August or September, hence it is also called Sravanotsavam.
Celebrations of the first day are marked by intricate floral carpets called Pookalam. More flowers of different colours are added to this pookalam on each passing day. Girls take great delight in designing them in the front courtyards of their house. Boys take pleasure in helping them gather flowers. Special prayers are also said on Atham in a local temple.The biggest and the most happening day in the carnival of Onam is Thiruvonam. Festivities begin as early as 4 am. People clean up their house, take early bath, wear new clothes and perform elaborate prayers to seek divine blessings.People of the rural areas also enjoy swinging from high branches of the tree and sing Onappaatt ritual song. Together with Pookalam competition, other competitions such as Ox races (Maramadimatsaram), food eating competitions, Uriyady (breaking of pots), etc also takes place. Elephant procession (decorated with ornaments and flowers) and folk dances (especially performed by the women together with songs praising the King Mahabali) are another attraction of the festival celebration. This festival season brings a huge opportunity for the weavers, potters and other businessmen as people demand more attractive and creative products all through the season
There are various dishes in ONAM FESTIVALS some are
SIGNIFICANCE OF ONAM FESTIVAL
Onam festival is being celebrated from the ancient time which still survives in modern times. People of Kerala celebrate this festival as the rice harvest festival and the Festival of Rain Flowers every year in the month of Chingam to commemorate the demon king Mahabali’s annual visit from Patala Loka. It is believed that King was so devoted and attached to his kingdom so he got permission by the Lord Vishnu to visit his kingdom once annually. Onam festival is celebrated annually with lots of joy and enthusiasm to honor King Mahabali. The Hindu deity Lord Vishnu (Vamana also called Onatthappan) is also worshipped. Thiruvonam day is the birthday of Sri Padmanabhan (Deity of Thiruvananthapuram) and most important day of Onam.
RITUALS OF 10 DAYS ONAM FESTIVAL
name festival is a ten days long traditional festival celebrated every year by performing various rituals and activities. Following are the days of the festival:
Interesting Facts and Trivia
1. Govardhan also translates to the blessings (Vardhan) given to a human by the cow (go) which is a sacred being in the Hindu culture.
2. Many communities also worship the cow on this day.
3. Besides creating a hillock of food, people also create hillocks of cow dung and celebrate this day by dancing around this hillock.
Govardhan Pooja is also symbolic of the gifts that nature gives to human beings and how they must be conserved and cared for.
Onam Gifts Tradition
The spectacular carnival and the biggest festival of Kerala, Onam has a well-defined tradition of gifts. Onam Gifts tradition helps to heighten the level of enthusiasm and raise the spirit of harmony amongst the traditional people of Kerala. Children are particularly excited about Onam as they receive lots of gift from their numerous uncles and aunts.