Onam is a grand occasion enveloping ten day celebrations across the state of Kerala. People of all faiths and sects unite together to display the superiority of their customs and cultures to charm the world. Celebrations of Onam remain in full swing for the whole nine day, kicking off from the first day (Atham) to last till the last day (Thiru Onam).
Onam celebrations not only charm the Indians, but also catch the attention of visitors from all parts of the globe. With the “Kerala Tourism Week” deliberately juxtaposed together, the occasion invites hundreds of thousands of tourists to enjoy the celebrations on offer. On the first day, floral designing marks the celebrations when every house takes to prepare it using flower petals of vibrant colours.
Celebrations of Onam reach to the most feverish pitch on the Thiruvonam when people wake up early to engage in a variety of tasks. From waking up early to cleaning up the house, from an early bath to putting up new clothes, every house witnesses the same routine from its inhabitants. After the prayers at a nearby temple, every family proceeds to create beautiful pookalam to receive the King.
On this day, the sumptuous lunch- called Onasadya- is served which includes more than 10 dishes. The festival of Onam buzzes with many activities in different parts of the state. If Pulikali performers amuse for their costume of tigers, the Kummattikali artists mesmerize the kids with their wooden mask; if embellished elephants and their procession lure at Thrissur, the Kathakali artists win the heart of people at Cheruthuruthy.
Onam festival witnesses many more charming activities organized through the state, including the clap dance (Kaikotikalli), snake boat race (Vallamkali), tough sports (Talappanthukali), and combats (Kayyankali). All these activities add to the charm of a festival which has grown massively in scale over the years.
Customs of Onam
Onam is not only a festival, but a grand occasion for the people of Kerala to exhibit their vivid culture to the world. An array of charming activities marks the arrival of a festival which is truly secular in nature. The people soak in the atmosphere and add to its charm by displaying their love and care towards age-old customs and traditions of the state.
Customs of Onam include various activities performed together either at each household, or enjoyed at a social level with a large group of people. Among the practiced customs, Athachamayam tops the list, as it sets-off the celebration all through the state. Resembling an exquisite procession, Athachamayam involves dancing, singing, elephants and local artists amid great joy.
The snake boat race or the Vallamkali has always been among the most popular Onam celebrations wherein hundreds of boats compete against each other in the backdrop of music, chants and songs. Another popular custom is Aranmula Uthrittathi which is a boat race, with no competition among the participants. The procession of festooned elephants is another well-liked custom, which is held at Trichur each year during the time of Onam.
Onam carries many celebrations at Cheruthuruthy, together with the Kathakali presentation carried out by some of the renowned artistes of Kerala. Pulikali or Kaduvakali Performance is another age-old custom wherein the artistes paint their body to resemble tigers for the entertainment of the people. Kummattikali, the folk dance, and Athapoovu competitions are some other very popular customers witnessed during the occasion of Onam.