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Onam 2019: How This Popular Festival Is Celebrated In Kerala

By Ajanta Sen

Onam is the National Festival of Kerala and it is celebrated by the people of the State with great enthusiasm and happiness. Onam is usually celebrated in the months of August to September, which is also known as the Chingam month in accordance to the Malayalam calendar. This year, in 2019, this festival will be celebrated from 1 September to 13 September.

According to this calendar, Chingam is the very first month of a year. The grand harvest festival of Onam lasts for several days. People of all ages participate in this festival with great happiness and excitement.

The term Onam has originated from Shravanam, which is a Sanskrit word; this means the 27 constellations or Nakshatras according to the Sanskrit terminology.

The term Thiru is used in the South for anything and everything that is in association with Lord Vishnu, whereas Thiruvonam is also known as Lord Vishnu's Nakshatra. Thiruvonam was known to press the virtuous King Mahabali with a single foot into the underworld.

Importance Of The Harvest Festival

Kerala was under the rule of a great and virtuous ruler, King Mahabali. It is true that he was a demon king, but he was well known for his kindness and righteousness. Kerala had seen the peak of glory and success when it was ruled by the great King Mahabali.

There was no one in the state who was not prosperous or happy. King Mahabali was considered to be one of the most just kings in the history of the Indian rulers.

According to mythology, King Mahabali was known to sacrifice himself with each and every possession that belonged to him, so that he could keep his words. Due to this, he had been blessed to return back to his people every year.

Another legend has it that the Gods were feeling challenged by his long rule and hence they decided to bring his rule to an end. But, due to the virtues he had and the good that he did to the people, he was allowed to come back every year to the state.

This time of the year is celebrated by the people of Kerala and it is known as the harvest festival or the Onam.

The Celebrations Of Onam In The State Of Kerala

Onam is celebrated by all the people, no matter what age they are, with great joy. The celebrations of Onam in Kerala include the Pookalam, the Onakalikal, the Onasadya, the Vallamkali Boat Race, the Elephant Procession and so on.


Pookalam is known as making various kinds of designs out of a variety of flowers to decorate the gates of the houses. A new layer of the flowers is added on each day of the Onam festival. Pookalam competitions also take place in certain places in the state of Kerala.


Onasadya is known as the meal that is prepared on the last day of Onam, Thiruvonam. Served on the banana leaves, this meal has four or five vegetables and is well known for its taste.


During Onam, there are a variety of games that are played in the state. One of the most favourite games that the men play is known as Talaq Panthu Kali. The women perform various traditional dance forms and they are also active in making the Pookalams.

Vallamkali Boat Race

Vallamkali Boat Race is one of the most important and entertaining boat races and takes place during the festival of Onam. In this, around a hundred boatmen are known to compete against each other. All the boats are decorated very beautifully. People from all over the world specially come to Kerala to experience this exuberant boat race.

Elephant Procession

One of the most interesting events of the Onam festival in Kerala is the Elephant procession. The great animal is decorated with flowers, gold ornaments and various other metals. The elephants take rounds and they are known to interact with the people.

Onam is the most awaited festival of Kerala. If anyone is planning on visiting Kerala, the best time is during the time of the Onam festival.

Read more about: onam festival onam spirituality