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Why Do We Celebrate Onam - The Most-Awaited Festival of Kerala

Shikha Parewa
Shikha Parewa
Makar Sankranti
Makar Sankranti

Kerala is well known for its fair and festivals, celebrated with much joy and splendor. Festivals are the way to showcase Kerala’s abundant culture and heritage. Onam is one of the very famous celebrations of Kerala. In 1960, the state government of Kerala declared it a celebration of Kerala. 

Onam is commemorated every year between August and September. Onam, also known as Thiru-Onam or Thiruvonam, is a major harvest festival. This year it is on August 21, but today it will be held from August 12 to September 23. 

Significance Onam?  

According to Gregorian calendar, Onam is celebrated in the month of Chingam, marked during August-September. Onam is celebrated to honor the return of a demon king in Mahabali mythology. Mahabali is a demon but he is known to be generous and kind. 

Onam: 10 days festival: 

Onam is a festival of 10 days and each day has its own name, importance and activities. It also has some post-Onam celebrations that people celebrate even after ten days of the festival. Each day of Onam is mentioned with their importance. 

First day (Atham): 

The celebration began on the first day of Atham. The people of Kerala regard this day as sacred and auspicious. People take bath early that morning and pray at the local temple. The making of Pookkallam (decoration of colorful flowers on the floor) begins on this day. Attha Poo is prepared in the front yard by the girls of the house to greet the spirit of King Mahabali. The boy playes a supporting role and helps in collecting flowers. In the next few days, more flowers are added to Pookalam. 

Second day (Chithira): 

Chithira is the second day of the festival. The girls started adding new flowers to Pookalam from Atham Day. The boys of home arrange flowers. Planning and discussions for further activities start from this day. Each event is discussed in detail, so there will be no unfinished or incomplete things. 

Third day (Chodi): 

On the third day of Onam, people buy gifts like new clothes and jewellery for each other. On this auspicious occasion they get together with their relatives.  

Forth day (Vishakam): 

On the fourth day of Onam women start prior preparation for Sadhya. Although, it is on the choice of family but generally each family prepare 26 delicacies.  

Fifth day (Anizham): 

From the fifth day, people start preparing boats for the race in Aranmula Uthrattathi Vallamkali which is the oldest river boat festival in Kerala. This is one of the most important day on Onam as from this day the snake boat race begins. 

Sixth day (Thriketa): 

From sixth day of Onam, festival gets boost in celebration as people get holidays from their work and children get off from their schools.  

Seventh day (Moolam):  

From the seventh day of Onam, temples starts serving special Sadhyas and people who are living far from their home, start visiting their relatives. On the other hand, the state gets decorated from the seventh day. 

Eighth day (Pooradam): 

On this day, statuettes of Mahabali and vamana are carried around the house and placed in the center of Pookalam.

Ninth day (Uthradom): 

Ninth day on Onam is considered most important and auspicious day as it is believed that on this day King Mahaali reached the state. People start preparing traditional food on this day. 

Tenth day ( Thiruvonam): 

On the last day of Onam, people apply rice flour batter on the main door of their houses. They get ready early in the morning for the Onam Sadhya feasts. People also arrange various games and activities to celebrate the Onam festival. 

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