Onam in Kerala
By Derik Lytten
What is Onam
Onam is a festival celebrated by the people of Kerala, India. It is also the Harvest Festival of Kerala with State holidays on 4 days starting from Onam Eve (Uthradom) to the fourth Onam Day. It is also a secular festival, celebrated by people of all religions and castes with the same zeal. The festival falls during the Malayalam month of Chingam (Aug - Sep) and marks the homecoming of the mythical King Mahabali who Malayalees consider as their King. Onam is reminiscent of Kerala's agrarian past, as it is considered to be a harvest festival. Also, it is one of the very few festivals that is celebrated with most number of cultural elements such as Vallam Kali, Pulikkali, Pookkalam, Onattappan, Thumbi Thullal, Onavillu, Kazhchakkula, Athachamayam etc..
What is the significance of onam?
Onam is an ancient festival which still survives in modern times. Kerala's rice harvest festival and the Festival of Rain Flowers, which fall on the Malayalam month of Chingam, celebrates the Asura King Mahabali's annual visit from Patala (the underworld). Onam is unique since Mahabali has been revered by the people of Kerala since prehistory.The King is so much attached to his kingdom that it is believed that he comes annually from the nether world to see his people living happily. It is in honour of King Mahabali, affectionately called Onathappan, that Onam is celebrated.
Mahabali's rule is considered the golden era of Kerala.
There was a malayalam song which was sung often during onam. This is its translation:
"When Maveli ruled the land,
All the people were equal.
And people were joyful and merry;
They were all free from harm.
There was neither anxiety nor sickness,
Deaths of children were unheard of,
There were no lies,
There was neither theft nor deceit,
And no one was false in speech either.
Measures and weights were right;
No one cheated or wronged his neighbor.
When Maveli ruled the land,
All the people formed one casteless races"
This is Video of how Onam is celebrated in Kerala.
By Derik Lytten