Onam is the biggest and the most important festival of the state of Kerala. It is a harvest festival and is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm all over the state by people of all communities. According to a popular legend, the festival is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam.
Onam Festival is celebrated in the beginning of the first month of Malayalam Calendar (Kolla Varsham) called Chingam. This month corresponds to August-September in Gregorian Calendar and Bhadrapada or Bhadon in Indian (Hindu) Calendar.
Carnival of Onam lasts from four to ten days. First day, Atham and tenth day, Thiruonam are most important of all. Popularity and presentation of rich culture of the state during the carnival made Onam the National Festival of Kerala in 1961. Elaborate feasts, folk songs, elegant dances, energetic games, elephants, boats and flowers all are a part of the dynamic festival called Onam.
Government of India has taken due notice of this vibrant and colorful festival. It promotes Onam internationally in a big way and celebrates ‘Tourist Week’ for Kerala during Onam celebrations. Thousands of domestic and foreign tourists visit Kerala to be a part of Onam.
Ten days of Onam
Carnival of Onam continues for ten days in the state of Kerala. In some regions of the state festivities are restricted to four to six days only. However, scholars say, the festivities have toned down a lot in the present time. In earlier days, Onam was celebrated for a month and much more lavishly.
Nevertheless, Onam is still celebrated with gaiety and joy on all the ten days of the festivities. There are set rituals for each day and the traditional people of Kerala dutifully follow them. The mood of the people is upbeat all through the carnival and the high spirited people of Kerala are ever ready to indulge in merriment.
Of all these days the first day Atham and the tenth day Thiruvonam are the most significant ones. Ninth day Uthradam is also considered to be extremely important from the point of view of celebrations in several parts of Kerala.
Atham – Day One
First day is an important one and is considered holy and auspicious by the people of Kerala
Chithira – Day Two
On the second day of Onam, people add to the size of the Pookalam with different flowers.
Chodhi – Day Three
Size of the Attha Poo gets further increased with an addition of design with a different flowers.
Visakam – Day Four
Brisk activities in the market and households can be witnessed on the day of Visakam.
Anizham – Day Five
High point of the day is the grand boat race event called Vallamkali.
Thriketa – Day Six
People, who may be staying away from their homes, start coming to their homes as the main day approaches.
Moolam – Day Seven
With just two days left for the festival now, enthusiasm grips the state of Kerala.
Pooradam – Day Eight
The day holds significance in Onam festivities. Devotees create clay idols in the shape of small pyramids.
Uthradam – Day Nine
It is a day prior to Thiruvonam. Some people begin festivities on a large scale on this day.
Thiruvonam – Day Ten
The biggest day of all, is the tenth day called Thiruvonam.