India > Festivals > Onam

Religious And Cultural Festival Onam

happy onam message
Happy Onam Flower Decoration

Just when the south Indian bids goodbye to the monsoons, the air across south India is full of joy, happiness, and vigor with the onset of Onam. This is an important festival of Kerala. Starting from decorating the elephants to Pulkali dancers and from the huge sized snake boats to amazing floral decoration, Onam is a festival of colors that your imaginations.

Onam in 2020

The festival celebrates the end of monsoons and welcomes the season of harvest in the most auspicious manner. Every year this festival is celebrated in Kerala along with other states as well. The state celebrates this festival for a long 10 days during Malayalam month. This is filled with love and brings together people to become a part of this cultural and vibrant festival. It is a reflection of the traditions and culture of the state in the most attractive and innovative manner. 22 August 2020 to 2 September 2020 is the time when again the people will enjoy and witness colors surrounding them, when again joy will prevail over sadness and when again people will get a reason to live and share happiness.

Importance of Onam festival

The history of Onam festival is from the Samgram period when the festival was celebrated for an entire month. As per some ancient legends, this rain flower festival was celebrated to honor Asura King Mahabali’s arrival from Patala which is the world existing underneath.

The story is from the time when Kerala was being ruled by Mahabali – the demon king who is popular for his generous attribute. The growing popularity of Mahabali was becoming dangerous for gods and therefore they asked for help from Lord Vishnu. Understanding the threat, Lord Vishnu appeared by disguising himself as Vamana who was a poor Brahmin.

On his arrival to the kingdom of Demon king, he wanted Mahabali to offer him the land that he will cover within three feet. Since he was a charitable and kind-hearted person, he immediately granted his wish, and soon after then, Vamana started growing in size. Therefore, in the next two steps, he was able to cover both the earth and Sky. As he was going to put his third step, Mahabali stood up and asked Vamana to put the third step on his head. As soon as Vamana took his step, it led Mahabali to Patala. However, since he was a great person, Lord Vishnu did grant a boon where he can visit annually to spend time with his people, and this why the Onam festival is celebrated.

Cultural relevance:
Amongst Hindus, Onam has huge importance but every religion celebrated this festival. This festival is something that brings together many religions thereby mitigating the religious disparities and spread harmony. Not only are the Hindus in Kerala, but also Christians of Kerala witnessed to enjoy the festival with all their energies. Their ritual comprises lighting the Nilanilakky follow by Arati and Pushparati.

Events that take place during the Onam festival

Tripunithura Athachamayam:
This is the very first day of the Onam festival celebrated with zeal and grandeur. The colorful inauguration is filled in the day that is featured with a street parade. This will also include different art forms of Kerala, dancers, musicians, carnival floats, and other decorated elephants walking on the streets.

Pookalam: The floral Arrangement:
This festival is also known as the flower festival and is a huge form of celebration of this auspicious event. This has the ritual where the people are found to decorate their rooms and design on floors using flowers, especially at the temples and door fronts making the entire space look like flower mat.

Pulikali: the Tiger Dance:
Pulikali means “Playing of tigers” that dates back to 200 years. Kochi who was the former king started the tiger dance which reflects meaningless. For this, hundreds of people paint themselves and also dress like a tiger and perform the traditional dance on music.

Vallamkali: Snake Boat Race:
This is probably one of the most astonishing features of Onam festival. The renowned boat race in Kerala is known across the nation which can be seen in this time of the year. This is held on the Pampa River in the grand procession which comprises the Nehru trophy and Aranmula Uthrattathi Boat Race.

Folk Dances:
Every festival seems incomplete without dance performance and similar to Onam as well. While the festival you will be able to find several women performing folk dances. Kaikottikali is the dance form during which King Mahabali is being paid tribute to. This is a clap dancing form. Another basic dance form is Thumbi Thuallu where you can find the women are dancing in circles.

India is a place of several festivals and Onam is one of the most auspicious names among them. This colorful festival can be seen to be celebrated by people from different religions in Kerala.

If you want to check the beauty of this festival, visit Kerala.