Onam or the Harvest festival is the National festival of Kerala. It is the biggest festival of Kerala and people of all ages take an active part in celebrating this festival. No matter which community the people belong to, they celebrate this festival with great pomp and excitement, thereby drawing people from in and around the world. The festival of Onam is celebrated according to the Malayalam Calendar, also referred to as the Kolla Varsham.
The very first month is Chingam, and this is the time when Onam is celebrated. According to the Gregorian Calendar, the Chingam month generally falls during August to September. The Onam Carnival continues from four to ten days. The first day is known as the Atham and the tenth day is known as the Thiruvonam. Grand feasts, folk songs, beautiful dance forms, elephant processions, a variety of games, boat races, etc. are part of the Onam festival. The Indian Government has promoted the harvest festival of Kerala internationally. Also, now, the "Tourist Week" is celebrated in Kerala during the celebrations of this dynamic festival. Not only domestic tourists but also foreign tourists visit Kerala to witness Onam.
The Names of the harvest festival
Onam is vibrant and colorful and it has two names in Kerala- Thiruvonam and Sravana Utsavam. Onam not only has names but also there are various rituals as well as traditions for all the ten days of the celebration. Many events are also celebrated. These rituals and events make the harvest festival so special. Thiruvonam is the tenth day of the Onam festival and is considered to be the most significant day. Onam is celebrated on the day of a full moon during the months of August to September. This asterism is considered to be very holy for Vishnu, and since the great demon King Mahabali was Lord Vishnu's devotee, this day became very holy for everyone in Kerala.
Modern Celebrations of Onam
Onam is well known for a number of rituals. There are many rituals that include the Onasadya, the Pookalam, the Elephant procession, and the Vallamkali boat race.
Onasadya is a grand feast in which the meal is prepared that has four to five vegetables. The dish is served on banana leaves. People from in and around the world visit Kerala for this delicious Onasadya during Onam and they relish it for many more years after that.
Pookalam is made by the women of Kerala. Beautiful and intricate designs are made out of different colored flowers, and they are spread on the floor or used to decorate the front doors of the house. This tradition is very popular in Kerala. Pookalam is prepared on all the ten days of the celebrations of Onam.
Vallamkali Boat Race
The Vallamkali Boat Race is also known as the Snake Boat Race. This race is one of the most entertaining facets during the Onam festival. Kerala promotes the Snake Boat Race as a tourist attraction, and people from in and around India come to see this spectacular event. Vallamkali Boat Race is an event whose popularity has been soaring over the years. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had even instituted trophy for the winner of the Boat Race.
The Elephant Procession
The Elephant Procession takes place in a place known as Thrissur. The majestic animals are adorned with jewelry and flower and are made to parade. The elephants even interact with the people who have come to see the procession.
The ten days of Onam are immense fun, and the people celebrate it with enthusiasm and excitement. Visiting Kerala during the celebration of Onam is the best idea.