Onam is the biggest festival of the state of Kerala. There are records of Onam being celebrated during the Sangam Age. It is a harvest festival and is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm all over the state by people of all communities for 10 days.
According to a popular legend, the festival is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala on the last day of festivities. The legend dictates that Gods had granted King Mahabali to visit his kingdom once a year and Onam is the day he visits. People celebrate his arrival with all the pomp and glamour by carrying out various activities. The festivity essentials are,
1. Clothing: Women wear kesav saree (white sprees with gold border) and men wear white dhotis with gold border. This is mandatory for the festival.
2. Decorations: Onam is incomplete without flower decorations. There will be not a single household in Kerala which will not have a flower rangoli in their yard, this rangoli is known as athapookalam. They have beautiful and intricate designs.
3. Song, dance and other activities: Traditional dance performances like Pulikali, Kaikottikali, Kathakkali, and Kummati Kali are also parts of the festivities. People also sing traditional Onam songs, known as Onappatt.
The snake boat race, called Vallamkali is probably the most awaited attraction for local as well as outside people. It is a colourful sight to watch the decorated boat oared by hundreds of boatmen amidst chanting of songs and cheering by spectators.
Other than this Onam is mostly associated with the Onam sadhya, so much so that it is also known as ‘Onam on a plate’. It is an elaborate lunch consisting of at least 11-12 dishes and is served on a beautiful green banana leaf.
May the spirit on Onam stay with you wherever you are. Have a fun Onam!