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Out of all the festivals in Kerala, Onam is the largest celebrated festival. According to the Malayalam calendar, Onam falls in its first month which is called Chingam (August-September). Onam is celebrated for a good ten days and has a deep link with the culture and tradition of Kerala. Onam is a very colorful and diverse festival in the way it is celebrated. The intricate flower carpets, the banquet lunch, snake boat races, the special dances etc. all play an integral part of the Onam celebrations.

History- Why is Onam celebrated?

Onam is also known as the rice harvest festival of Kerala. Though it is an ancient festival, it is still celebrated with great excitement and enthusiasm. Onam is celebrated annually in the Malayalam month of Chingham which marks the homecoming of the King Maveli, who is of great importance to the people of Kerala since prehistoric times.
If the famous legend is to be believed, during the time of King Mahabali, Kerala saw its golden period. Each and every citizen of the state flourished with happiness and prosperity. He was so highly in regards and respect of everyone that even the panel of gods under Indra became jealous of him and visited Mahavishnu claiming that Mahabali was now getting equivalent to Indra. Now, something had to be done, since two Indras in the world would be a sign of imbalance. So in order to attain balance, Mahavishnu assumed the form of a dwarf: the Vamana, visited Mahabali and with some trick, took him to the Pathalam, underworld. Since Mahabali is equal to Indra, he would have to wait till the next Yuga, to be at the position of Indra. Meanwhile, with the grace of Mahavishnu, Mahabali annually visits his people and it is on this occasion Onam is celebrated, in order to welcome the King.

When it is celebrated?

As per the Malayalam calendar, Onam is celebrated in the first month which is called the Chingham (August-September). The Onam celebrations go on till ten days with everyday having its own significance.
Each day has its own separate name which is as following:
  • Atham, the First Day
  • Chithira, the Second Day
  • Chodi, the Third Day
  • Vishakam, the Fourth Day
  • Anizham, the Fifth Day
  • Thriketa, the Sixth Day
  • Moolam, the Seventh Day
  • Pooradam, the Eighth Day
  • Uthradom, the Ninth Day
  • Thirvuonam, the Tenth (last) Day

    Where it is celebrated?

    Onam originated in the state of Kerala, a long time ago, when the mythical King Mahabali ruled the state. Onam celebrations recall the great King’s devotion n towards the god, in which he left his capital on god’s orders. It is mainly celebrated to assure the King that his people are happy and leading a prosperous life and o wish his wellbeing.
    It originated in Kerala and so Kerala is the main place of its celebration.

    How is it celebrated?

    The ten of Onam celebrations are carried out with great zest and zeal. Each and every day, out of these ten days has its own customs and rituals. For these full ten days, earthen mounds, which are very similar to the square pyramids, representing Mahabali and Vaman (avatar of Vishnu) are kept outside the house and are beautifully decorated with fresh flowers.

    Last Updated on 09/19/2011

    Festivals of India