Flower Carpets, Banana Chips, 10-Day Celebrations: Why Onam Is The King Of Harvest Festivals
India is a land of festivals. Every month in the calendar comes with a festival of its own. Onam, the auspicious festival of Kerala will be celebrated this August. One of the most popular harvest festivals of the South, Onam is also known as Thiruvonam and lasts for about ten days.
When Is Onam 2023?
This year, Onam celebrations commenced on August 20 and will continue till the 31st. As per a Drik Panchang report, the Thiruvonam Nakshatram will fall on August 29 this year. It will start at 2:43 am and end at 11:50 pm.
Significance Of Onam
This festival is associated with prosperity and joy, as this is the time when farmers bring their harvest home.
Get To Know The Mythology
The myth of the righteous king Mahabali lies at the heart of this festival. His prosperous and peaceful reign attracted the ire of the devas (Gods). So they sent Lord Vishnu in the avatar of a Vamana (dwarf) to the king. When measuring the land, vamana’s feet grew. The humble king asked the dwarf to place his feet on his head to help him move. Delighted by his helpfulness Lord Vishnu granted him a boon before whisking him away - he will be able to visit his subjects once a year. Onam is observed to celebrate the king’s return.
Celebrations Last For 10 Days!
Like most Indian festivals, Onam too lasts for days! Read on to find out more.
The day of Atham marks the beginning of the festival. The preparations for the return of King Mahabali to his kingdom begin on this day. Devotees create beautiful carpets called Pookkalam from yellow flowers. People also undertake processions called Athachamayan at the Vamanamoorthy Trirrikara Temple.
Malayalis flock to the temples and create more layers for the Pookkalam carpets.
On this day women don traditional attire - the ‘kasavu’ saree while men sport the ‘mundu’ a kind of dhoti. People also exchange gifts through a ritual called ‘Onakkodi’.
On this day, families stock up their homes with fresh harvest.
On this day, Keralites participate in an exciting boat race called Vallamkali at the Pamba River.
Families pay tribute to ancestors as well as ancestral properties and visit the temple.
Devotees flock to the temples to savour the delicious Onasadya (a type of prasadam or food offering), Folk dances such as Pulikali & Kaikottukali are performed across Kerala.
Clay idols of Mahabali & Vaman are placed at the centre of the flower carpets on this day. Floral layers are added. This is a gesture of welcoming the mighty king to homes.
Preparations for the king's arrival are in full swing on the ninth day. Delicious dishes such as pappadam, upperi or banana chips, inji curry, etc are prepared with fervor.
This marks the final day of Onam. Families decorate their homes with intricate designs made from rice flour. A grand feast or the Onasadya is held.