KERALA TRADITIONAL SEASON

ONAM

ONAM

Onam is a Hindu festival celebrated by the people of Kerala, India. It is also the National 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, Onappottan, Thumbi Thullal, Onavillu, Kazhchakkula, Athachamayam etc..


SIGNIFICANCE

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. The following song is often sung over Onam:


Maveli nadu vaneedum kalam,
manusharellarum onnupole
amodhathode vasikkum kalam
apathangarkkumottillathanum
kallavum illa chathiyumilla
ellolamilla polivachanam
kallapparayum cherunazhiyum
kallatharangal mattonnumilla
adhikal vyadhikalonnumilla
balamaranangal kelppanilla

... (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

The beauty of the festival lies in its secular fabric. People of all religions, castes and communities celebrate the festival with equal joy and verve. Onam also helps to create an atmosphere of peace and brotherhood by way of various team sports organised on the day.

The rich cultural heritage of Kerala comes out in its best form and spirit during the ten-day festival. The central feature of Onam is the grand feast called Onasadya, prepared on Thiruonam. It is a nine-course meal consisting of 11 to 13 essential dishes. Onasadya is served on banana leaves and people sit on a mat laid on the floor to have the meal.


PICTURES & VIDEO

Onam