GCC Exchange wishes you all Happy Onam 2016
Onam, the biggest and the most important festival of the state of Kerala is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm all over the state by people of all communities. According to a popular legend, the festival is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam. Onam is celebrated in the beginning of the month of Chingam,the first month of Malayalam Calendar(Kollavarsham). This corresponds with the month of August-September according to Gregorian Calendar.
Meaning of Onam
The word Onam is believed to have been originated from the Sanskrit word Shravanam which in Sanskrit refers to one of the 27 Nakshatars or constellations. Thiru in South India is used for anything associated with the Lord Vishnu and Thiruvonam is believed to be the Nakshatra of Lord Vishnu who pressed the great King Mahabali to the underworld with his foot.
Importance of Onam
The festival of Onam is dedicated to the King Mahabali who though was an Asur (one with more negative thoughts in his mind) by birth but was a Sur (one with more positive thoughts in his mind) by virtue. It is said that Kerala never witnessed a better time than it witnessed during the rule of King Mahabali. He was the most just king ever. None of the needy ever returned empty handed from his door. The myth of King Mahabali says that the king sacrificed himself along with every thing else he had in order to stand true to his words. Thus as a reward for his sacrifice he was blessed to be remembered by the people of Kerala and all his followers for eternity in the form of Onam festival.
If you wish to travel to Kerala to enjoy the fun and frolic of an Indian festival, then the best option would be the time of Onam. The interesting rituals associated with the festival contribute to making the celebrations of Onam a fascinating one.
Major Attractions of Onam Celebrations
Pookkalam refers to making designs with different types of flowers in front of the gate of house. With each passing day during the Onam festival, a new layer of flowers is added to the Pookalam. At some Pookalam competitions are held at some places.
This the grand meal prepared at the day Thiruonam. Onasadya meal is served on a Banana leaf and is a nine course meal having at least four to five vegetables. The number of vegetables in the meal varies from house to house but most of the well off families cooks nine to eleven dishes for the Onasadya. Restaurants offer as many as 30 dishes for the Onasadya.
This refers to all the games played at the festival of Onam. Talappanthukali which is game played with a ball is a favorite of men. They also indulge in Ambeyyal (archery). Women engage themselves in making Pookalam and performing several traditional dances.
Vallamkali Boat Race
Also known as the snake boat race, this is one of the most entertaining events of the Onam festival. Near about 100 boatmen compete with each other in a boat riding competition .The boats are decorated beautifully in different patterns. Men and women from across the city come to witness this race.
The elephant procession is one of the most awaited events of Onam. The majestic animal is decorated with flowers, ornaments in gold and other metals. The elephant is made to take a round of whole Thrissur where this procession is held. The elephant dances and interacts with people through small gestures.
Other major attraction of the festival includes the folk dances performed by women. Kaikottikali is a clap dance performed on the occasion of Onam. Women performing the dance sing praises of King Mahabali. Women also perform a dance in a circle. This dance form is called Thumbi Thullal.
Ten Days of Onam
The festival of Onam lasts for ten long days and each day has a unique name, significance and different activities attached to it:
Day 1 (Atham): This is the first day of Onam when Mahabali supposedly starts his preparation to head towards earth. It is marked by the beginning of designing Pookalam (only with Yellow flowers), the size of which eventually grows with each day. The statues of Vamana and King Mahabali are also installed in houses.
Day 2 (Chithira): The second day adds another layer of flowers to Pookalam and cleaning of houses starts on Chithira.
Day 3 (Chodi): Along with the addition of flowers to Pookalam, People start their shopping at this day.
Day 4 (Vishakam): This day marks the beginning of several competitions that are held during Onam.
Day 5 (Anizham): This is the day when Vallamkali Boat Race starts in many parts of Kerala.
Day 6 (Thriketa): By this time most of schools get closed and people start devoting all their time to the celebrations.
Day 7 (Moolam): This is the seventh day in the Onam celebrations. At several places Ona Sadya and the dances related to the festival starts being performed. The state has been decorated beautifully by this time.
Day 8 (Pooradam): This is a day when the statues of Vamana and King Mahabli are washed and installed in the middle of the Pookalam which is very big in size now.
Day 9 (Uthradom): The ninth day or the eve of Onam is of a great significance. People buy fresh vegetables and women cook the traditional meals which are very grand. King Mahabali, it is believed reaches the state of Kerala this day.
Day 10 (Thiruonam): This is the final day when all the preparations are culminated into final celebrations. People take bath early in the morning, distribute gifts and special prayers are held in temples. The grand Thiruona Sadya (Onam Special Meal) is prepared in all the households. Several competitions are held in the different parts of Kerala.