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Onam is the biggest festival of the Indian state of Kerala. Onam Festival falls during the Malayalam month of Chingam (August–September) and marks the homecoming of the great King Mahabali. The carnival of Onam lasts for ten days and highlights the best of Kerala culture and tradition. Intricately decorated Pookalam, enchanting Onasadya, captivating snake boat race and the charming Kaikottikali dance are some of the most notable features of Onam, the harvest festival of Kerala.
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May the festival of Onam be the beginning of your successful life. Happy Onam!
What is Onam in English
Onam is a festival celebrated in Kerala. Although this festival is celebrated all over India, but it is most special in the state of Kerala. This festival is also considered to be the biggest festival of Kerala.
This festival is celebrated not in temples but in homes. This festival is celebrated around between August and September. Onam is celebrated in the first month of Kolavarsham according to the Malayalam calendar. In some places this festival is also called Onam.
This festival is dedicated to Vaman, an incarnation of Vishnu, considered to be the highest level god of Hindu civilization. This festival is most important for the farmers. It is also popularly called ‘harvest festival’. This festival of Onam is celebrated with great pomp from Atham day till Thiruvonam day.
This festival is celebrated at the beginning of the harvest season. According to religious texts, it was at this time that Lord Vishnu took the Vamana avatar to free heaven from demon king Mahabali. In some states this festival is also known as Vaman Jayanti.
Why Do We Celebrate Onam
Onam is one of the major festivals of Malayalees and this festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm by almost all Malayalees living in the country and abroad. Although the grandest celebration of Onam takes place in Kerala, this festival is celebrated with great pomp and show in many other states also. If seen in general terms, the festival of Onam is celebrated as a festival of new crop yield in the fields.
Apart from this, a specialty of this festival is that on this day people do not worship in temples, but in their homes. However, along with this there is also a mythological story associated with this festival. Due to which Malayali people give a lot of respect to this festival.
It is believed that King Mahabali, from whom Lord Vishnu incarnated as Vaman, measured all the three worlds in three steps. That demon king Mahabali was the king of Kerala and this festival of Onam is dedicated to him. It is believed that during this festival, King Mahabali comes to earth from Hades for three days and brings joy and happiness to his subjects along with the new crop. This is the reason why on this festival people also make a clay idol of King Bali in the courtyard of their homes.
How is the festival of Onam celebrated?
The importance of Onam festival is no less than Diwali in Kerala. Preparations for this festival start about 10 days in advance. Houses are cleaned before Onam arrives. The first day of Onam is known as Uthradam. Houses are beautifully decorated on the night of Uthradam. After this, on the day of Thiruonam, puja is done in homes in the morning. At this time, many types of vegetarian dishes are prepared at home, the number of which is 20 or more than 20.
People celebrating Onam festival make colorful rangolis in their homes. Girls perform Thiruvathira Kali, a special folk dance of Kerala, around the home-made rangoli. Every day a circle of flowers is made on this Ukalam, due to which it becomes very big by the 10th day i.e. the day of Thiruvonam.
Amidst this Pukalam, there are idols made of raw clay of King Mahabali and Vishnu’s Vaman avatar and his body guards. Apart from this, boat racing, rangoli making, Puli Kali i.e. tiger style dance and Kummaitikali i.e. mask making are held at many places. Competitions like dance are celebrated. In this way this festival is celebrated with great pomp.
How Do We Celebrate Onam Custom and Tradition of Onam Festival
The festival of Onam is celebrated with much pomp and enthusiasm by Malayali people. In Kerala, people start preparations for this festival ten days in advance. During this time people clean their houses. On this day, people celebrating the festival of Onam make beautiful rangolis from flower petals in the courtyard of their homes, in the local language these rangolis are called ‘Pookalam’.
Along with this, during this time, people also install the idol of King Mahabali in their homes because people believe that during the festival of Onam, King Bali returns to earth from the underworld to meet his subjects. This idol of King Bali is installed in the middle of Poolakam along with the idol of Vamana avatar of Lord Vishnu.
The flower decoration work continues for eight days and on the ninth day, an idol of Lord Vishnu is made and worshiped in every house. On this day, women worship Vishnu, dance and sing around it and clap. At night, idols of Lord Ganesha and Shravan deity are made. After this the children sing songs dedicated to Vaman Avatar. Lamps are lit in front of the idols and after the puja, the idols are immersed on the tenth day.
Along with worship, the festival of Onam is also famous for its dishes. During this festival, various types of dishes are prepared in homes. This is the reason why children are most excited about this festival. Generally, on this day, dishes like Pachadi-Pachadi Kallam, Daav, Ghee, Ollam, Sambhar etc. are prepared, which are served on banana leaves. The cuisine prepared on Onam reflects the diversity of the food of Nimbudri Brahmins, which serves to showcase their culture. At many places, eighteen types of dishes made from milk are served on this day.
Along with celebrating this day, dances like Kathakali dance, Kummatikali (mask dance), Pulikali dance (dance performed in lion costume) etc. are organized to entertain the people. Along with this, boat races and various types of sports are also organized on this day.
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Special Dishes Of Onam Festival
The festival of Onam is very famous for its diverse culture as well as its food. On this festival, along with various entertaining activities, many types of special dishes are also prepared. Information about some of these important dishes is given below.
- Banana Chips
- Pariappu Curry
Importance of Onam festival
All festivals have their own different significance. Onam festivals are very popular in South India. This festival is most important for the people of Kerala. Just as festivals like Ganeshotsav, Durga Puja are celebrated for 10 days all over the country, similarly in Kerala, the festival of Onam is celebrated with great pomp for 10 days.
This festival is considered the most important for farmers. The festival of Onam is celebrated when the crops are ripe in South India and mainly in Kerala. At this time, people not only worship Mahabali and Lord Vaman but also worship Shravan deity and Pushpa deity for the protection of their crops and fulfillment of their wishes.
Mostly vegetarian dishes are prepared on the occasion of Onam. This festival starts from Trikka Kara, the famous and only Vamana temple in Kerala. There is a belief about this temple that it was built by Lord Parashuram. It is believed that at least 20 dishes should be prepared at the time of Onam.
Because of this, many types of dishes are prepared at this time in different places and they are served and consumed on banana leaves like in ancient times. This plate of Onam is called Sadhya Thali.
Modern Tradition of Onam
There have been many changes in the festival of Onam compared to before. In the modern era, man is now surrounded by busy schedules, due to which the real meaning of every festival is getting lost. Now all the festivals are left only in name and the same has happened with Onam.
Now people do not see the same enthusiasm about the festival of Onam as before. In earlier times, people used to celebrate this day with their family members, but now due to living in cities, most of the people are not able to celebrate this day with their families.
This festival shows the message of closeness that how King Bali, because of his love for his people, comes to meet his people once in a year. Similarly, we should also try to celebrate the festival of Onam with our family members.
Significance of Onam Festival
The festival of Onam is the most important festival of the state of Kerala, it is celebrated by almost all the Malayali people living in the country and abroad. The importance of this festival can be gauged from the fact that in Kerala this festival has the same kind of recognition as Dussehra and Diwali in North India.
On this festival, people clean their houses and decorate them nicely. Along with this, many entertaining programs like boat race, Kathakali and singing are also organized during this period. Many types of special dishes are also prepared in homes on this day.
On the day of Onam, people do not go to temples to worship, rather they worship in their homes on this day. Malayali people believe that worshiping at home on this day brings prosperity to the house. Along with this, there is also a belief regarding this festival that during Onam, King Bali comes to earth from the underworld and brings happiness to his people.
In fact, Onam is the festival when the new crop is ready in Kerala and because India has been an agricultural country since ancient times, this is the reason why this day is celebrated with so much pomp and show.
History of Onam Festival
Just as every state celebrates its own traditional festivals, the festival of Onam is celebrated in Kerala in the same way. This festival is celebrated in the memory of King Mahabali of Kerala. The most popular story regarding this festival is that-
In ancient times, King Mahabali was a very powerful king of the present day Kerala state and he loved his subjects very much. Apart from being a generous person, he was also very brave. He had conquered all the three worlds with his muscle power, then his Guru Shukracharya advised him to perform hundred Ashwamedha Yagya and attain the status of Indra and become the lord of the three worlds forever. As per his orders, King Bali started performing hundred Ashwamedha Yagyas and 99 of his yagyas were completed safely.
But before the completion of the 100th Yagya, Lord Vishnu appeared there in the form of Vamana and asked for three steps of land from King Bali, but King Bali was unaware that Lord Vishnu himself was standing in front of him in Vamana avatar. When King Bali accepted his demand, Lord Vishnu in the form of Vamana assumed the form of a giant and measured all the worlds in two steps and when he asked for a place for the third step, King Bali said, O Lord, keep the third step on your head. Give.
When Lord Vaman took the third step, King Bali went to the underworld. Pleased with this donation and devotion of King Bali, Lord Vishnu asked him to ask for a boon. Then King Bali said, ‘O Lord, I want time to meet my subjects once a year.’ Since then it is believed that it is the festival of Onam, on which King Bali comes to meet his subjects. This is the reason why this festival of Onam is celebrated with so much pomp and show in Kerala.
Overall, Onam is a festival of unity. It unites all the communities of Kerala. It is a festival that erases all boundaries of caste, religion and color from the hearts of the people of Kerala. This festival is celebrated every year with great joy and enthusiasm.
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