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Onam Festival 2019: Let’s Get in the Harvest Festival of Kerala

By South India Personal Tours @topindiaholiday

Onam is the biggest cultural festival of Kerala that turns God’s Own Country to a splash of colors and evokes ecstasy. The harvest festival marks the annual visit of the mythical king Mahabali – who was the ruler of ancient Kerala. Onam festival lasts for 10 days and the enthusiasm and grandeur should be expected. This year, the Onam festival will begin on 1st September and lasts till 13th September. This festival reconnects the bonds between family and friends making it stronger than before. People in Kerala celebrate this festival with great enthusiasm with beautiful flower decorations boat races, traditional songs, and dance along with delicious vegetarian meals. 

History of Onam Festival –

Onam Festival 2019: Let’s get in the Harvest Festival of Kerala

The origin of this festival takes back to the Bhagavata Purana – a sacred book depicts the story of demon king Mahabali. However, the king was a demon but extremely virtuous and bighearted. During his reign, Kerala reaches the height of prosperity and everyone there was leading a joyful life. The increasing popularity of Mahabali became a matter of concern for the rest of the Gods and they turned to Lord Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu took on the Vamana Avatar and disguised himself as a poor dwarf Brahmin priest and appeared in front of Mahabali. The Brahmin requested three paces of the planet earth and Mahabali was kind enough to grant his request. Lord Vishnu took a huge form and in the first two steps covered the earth and heaven, Mahabali was so pleased to see the lord and offered his head for the last and final step. 

Lord Vishnu blessed the king and grants him to return to his homeland every year to see his people. The day when Mahabali returns Kerala was celebrated as Onam. This festival pays homage to the legendary king Mahabali and is celebrated with great enthusiasm. 

How 10 days of Onam festival celebration takes place?

  • Day 1 – Atham – the people in Kerala after taking an early morning bath offer prayer in the temple. Men gather the flower and women make the pookkalam to welcome the legendary king – Mahabali. On this day pookkalam is small in size and will keep on increasing until the final day.  
  • Day 2 – Chithira – new flowers are added to the pookkalam and as usual, the ritual goes men get the flower for the women. 
  • Day 3 – Chodhi – another additional layer of flowers are added on this day. The family goes shopping and buys new clothes and jewelry for each other. 
  • Day 4 – Vishakam – this day marks the beginning of the main meal known as Onam Sadhya. Malayalis take much pride in this elaborate lunch. 
  • Day 5 – Anizham – the traditional snake boat races take place along the Pampa River at Aranmula. 
  • Day 6 – Thriketa – people who have migrated to other regions visit their ancestral homes to celebrate the festivity with their dear ones also exchange gifts with each other. 
  • Day 7 – Moolam – Hindu temples in Kerala start serving vegetarian meals specially sadhyas. Various traditional dance performances including the Puli Kali. 
  • Day 8 – Pooradam – the small idols of Vamana and Mahabali places in the middle of pookkalam. It is said that Mahabali is invited and greeted by the people. From now the figurine will be known as Onathappan. 
  • Day 9 – Uthradam – the day celebrated with gala feasts are arranged. It is considered as the best day to buy fruits and veggies. It is believed that the king will tour his kingdom and bless the people. 
  • Day 10 – Thiruvonam – the final day when people clean their houses and apply welcome sign with rice water at the entrance. The eldest woman of the family gives new clothes to the family member. The afternoon is enjoyed with special games in rural areas. In the evening, a celebration with bright lights and firecrackers takes place. 

Becoming a part of this grand celebration is an honor and would be a great experience of South Indian cultures. So, plan your South India Tour and get ready to become a part of this amazing harvest festival.

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