Onam (Malayalam: ഓണം) one of the greatest festivals of Kerala, is a ten day celebration starting from Atham (the first day) and continuing till tenth and the biggest day which is known as Thiru Onam.
Onam is celebrated in the Malayalam calendar of Chingam which falls in August – September in the Gregorian calendar.
According to legends Onam celebrates the return of King Mahabali, the kind demon king who once ruled the land.
Ten Day Onam Festival Celebrations :
Attam : First Day of Onam
Attam marks the beginning of the ten day Onam festival. It is believed that on this day King Mahabali starts his preparations to come to Kerala from heaven.
On this day people of Kerala wake up early in the morning, take bath and visit nearby temple to offer prayers to their beloved god as they consider this day is holy and auspicious.
From this day onward woman start making Pookalam, also called Athapoo (floral carpet) in the front courtyard of their homes. Fresh flowers are added to this pookalam on each of the ten day’s of Onam. Pookalam is made to welcome the spirit of Holy king Mahabali.
Another important feature of this day is the grand procession known as Athachamayam which takes place in the historical town of Thripunithura.
The Athachamayam procession is a combination of several pageants, caparisoned elephants, and representations of art forms like theyyam, pulikali, mayilattom, attakavadi, etc.
Chithira : Second Day of Onam
On this day also people wake up early, take a bath and visit local temples to seek blessings of their beloved god. After that they add second layer of fresh flowers to the Pookkalam which they had made on the previous day.
From this day onward, people starts cleaning their house to prepare for the Thiruvonam day.
A long shopping list is also prepared on this day about what all is to be purchased for Onam celebrations like new clothes, sweets, etc
Chodhi : Third Day of Onam
As usual people visit temple and then add a third layer of fresh flowers to the Pookkalam.
From this day people starts shopping for Onam festival. People generally shop for new clothes (Onakkodi) for the important day of Onam (Thiruvonam). They also buy gifts for friends and relatives.
Visakam : Fourth Day of Onam
Visakam, the fourth day of Onam festival is considered as one of the most auspicious days of Onam.
Apart from adding another layer of flowers to the Pookalam, people also make sweets, pickels and other delicacies in their kitchen’s for the festive season.
There is also a shopping spree in the market places with lots of offers and sales on display.
Anizham : Fifth Day of Onam
On Anizham, the fifth day of the Onam festival, grand Vallamkali (snake boat race) are organized in many parts of Kerala. This snake boat race attracts a lot of tourist attraction. People from throughout the country and other parts of the world come to Kerala specially to see these snake boat races.
One can witness the degree of enthusiasm and excitement increasing in the people, as there are only four days to go for the important day of Onam.
Thriketa : Sixth Day of Onam
On Thriketa, the sixth day of Onam is seen as a day of get-togethers and cultural programs.
On this day people decorate their homes and add new flowers to their already laid Pookkalam.
Moolam : Seventh Day of Onam
Moolam is the seventh day of the Onam festival.
Markets are overcrowded on this day as people are busy doing all the last-minute Onam shopping.
People back home revamp their Pookkalam, giving it an entirely new look by adding special flowers kondattam (gaiety) to it. Now the design of the Pookkalam becomes even more intricate.
From this day onwards the official Government celebrations starts with heavy illuminations in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode cities along with fireworks.
Pooradam : Eighth Day of Onam
Pooradam, the eighth day of Onam has a special importance.
During the day, people first clean their house and then small statues of Mahabali and Vamana are taken around the house as a procession and then these statues are placed in the center of the pookalam smeared with rice-flour batter and from now the statues are known as Onathappan.
Uthradam : Nineth Day of Onam
Uthradam is the ninth and penultimate day of the Onam festival. It is also known as Onnam Onam (first Onam). This day is a public holiday in the State of Kerala.
By this time, people are in high spirits to welcome King Mahabali.
The Urthada lunch prepared on this day is a very famous tradition. In the evening, women start their preparations for grand Onam buffet known as Onam Sadya which is prepared on the Thiruvonam day.
Thiruvonam : Tenth Day of Onam
The tenth and the most important day of Onam festival is Thiruvonam, also known as Thiru Onam. This day is also known as Rendam Onam (Second Onam).
This day marks return of King Mahabali to his fabled land (Kerala), as per the boon he received from Vamana to meet his people and bless them.
People wear new clothes on this day known as Onakkodi.
This day is also considered auspicious as birthdays of several temple deities like Vamana of Thrikkara temple, Sree Padmanabha Swamy of Thiruvananthapuram etc. Hence people visit local temples early in the morning.
Special prayers are also organized at households. In the noon, the grand feast (Onasadya) is prepared. Onnakkali (Onam games) are played thereafter.
In evening people meet their friends and relatives and wish them Happy Onam saying “Thiruvonam Aashamsakal”
Wishing all readers Happy Onam 2017 !!!