Onam – The festival of light and cheer
Onam, the most popular festival of Kerala is the time for untold joy, cheer and festivities. It is the harvest festival of India, and is usually celebrated at the end of August or the start of September. This 10-day long festival comprises a lot of dance and music, buying new clothes and making and gorging on delectable traditional fare. A very important and popular event that is synonymous with Onam is the Vallamkali, or the snake boat race. This event sees more than 100 oarsmen row huge boats through the water to win the Nehru Trophy Boat Race.
Legend goes, Kerala witnessed some of its best years during the reign of the demon-king, Mahabali. Everyone in his kingdom was happy and prosperous, and the only thing wrong was that Mahabali was very egoistical. This shortcoming in Mahabali’s character was taken advantage of by the other Gods who felt threatened by his immense popularity. However, for all the good things that he did for his kingdom, the Gods granted him the boon to visit his people annually. This visit is celebrated by the people of Kerala in the form of Onam.
A few of the most famous events of Onam are the elephant processions of Trichur and the Kathakali performances of Cheruthuruthy. The most important days of this 10-day festival are the first day called Atham and the tenth day called Thiruonam. Considering how colourful and exciting this festival is for the locals, the Government has now started promoting tourism in Kerala during Onam festivities. The hotels in Kerala completely fill up during this time, with tourists from around the world and the rest of India coming in. These Kerala hotels are very well-equipped to accommodate this inflow of tourists to the state.
While the women indulge in cultural activities during Onam, the men participate in sports and boat races, giving Kerala a very jovial and festive atmosphere. Flower mats, or Pookalam, are designed in front of houses as a way of welcoming the demon-king Mahabali. Such is this grand carnival called Onam. The more you talk about it, the more you want to experience it! Have you ever celebrated Onam the traditional way in Kerala? Share your experiences in the comments section below!