When Onam Is Celebrated | Onam – The Festival Of Joy And Happiness

When Onam Is CelebratedWhen Onam Is Celebrated

When Onam Is Celebrated: Onam, the vibrant and culturally rich festival, holds a special place in the hearts of people from Kerala, India. Celebrated with fervor and enthusiasm, Onam is an occasion that transcends religious and cultural boundaries, uniting the entire state in a tapestry of traditions, feasts, and festivities. In this article, we’ll delve into the captivating story behind the celebration of Onam and explore its various facets that make it a truly unique and cherished festival.

Onam, often referred to as the ‘Harvest Festival of Kerala,’ marks the homecoming of the mythical King Mahabali, a beloved ruler known for his virtuous reign and generosity. This ten-day festival typically falls during the month of Tue, 29 Aug, 2023, in accordance with the Malayalam calendar. It is a time of reunion, merriment, and cultural extravaganza.

The Legend of Onam

The genesis of Onam lies in the fascinating tale of King Mahabali and Vamana, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. According to legend, King Mahabali’s benevolent rule began to worry the gods, fearing his growing power. Lord Vishnu, in the guise of a dwarf Brahmin, visited Mahabali and requested three paces of land. The king, renowned for his generosity, agreed. Vamana then transformed into a giant and covered the entire universe in three steps. As there was no space left for the third step, Mahabali offered his head, which Vishnu gently pushed down to the netherworld. However, Vishnu granted Mahabali a boon, allowing him to visit his kingdom and people once a year, which is celebrated as Onam. When Onam Is Celebrated.

Preparation for Onam Celebrations

The excitement leading up to Onam is palpable across Kerala. Homes are cleaned, and intricately designed flower carpets, known as ‘Pookalams,’ are laid in front of doorsteps to welcome King Mahabali. The atmosphere is filled with joy and anticipation as families come together to decorate their homes and plan elaborate feasts.

The Grand Onam Sadhya Feast

The heart of Onam celebrations lies in the sumptuous ‘Onam Sadhya’ – a traditional feast served on banana leaves. Comprising an array of vegetarian dishes, the Sadhya showcases the culinary diversity of Kerala. From the tangy avial and crispy banana chips to the creamy payasam, each dish holds a significance that reflects the cultural heritage of the state.

Pookalams: Floral Rangoli Designs

The vibrant ‘Pookalams’ adorning doorsteps are a visual delight. These intricate floral designs, made using a variety of vibrant petals and leaves, symbolize abundance and prosperity. Communities engage in friendly competitions to create the most impressive Pookalam, adding an element of creativity and camaraderie to the festivities.

Vallamkali: The Snake Boat Race

A spectacle of vigor and unity, the Vallamkali or Snake Boat Race is a riveting event during Onam. Colorfully adorned longboats, rowed by hundreds, compete in a race that’s not just a display of athleticism but also a reflection of the unity and team spirit cherished by Keralites.

Kaikottikali: The Graceful Dance

Kaikottikali, a graceful dance form performed by women, adds an elegant touch to Onam celebrations. Adorned in traditional attire, women form circles and dance rhythmically, creating an enchanting sight. The dance showcases Kerala’s cultural elegance and devotion.

Pulikali: The Playful Tiger Dance

Pulikali, meaning ‘play of the tigers,’ is a unique folk art that involves performers painting themselves as tigers in vibrant hues. This playful street performance brings laughter and excitement to the festival, making it a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

Onam Sadya Delicacies

The Onam Sadhya is incomplete without its array of flavorsome dishes. From the aromatic sambar to the crispy papadam and the sweet pradhaman, each dish has a role in the grand symphony of flavors that define Kerala’s cuisine.

Shopping and New Attires

The festival also sees a flurry of shopping activity as people buy new clothes, jewelry, and gifts for their loved ones. The markets come alive with color and energy, reflecting the spirit of togetherness and celebration.

Athachamayam Parade

The Onam celebrations kick off with the vibrant Athachamayam Parade, a grand procession showcasing Kerala’s rich cultural heritage. Elephants, traditional art forms, and elaborately dressed performers create a mesmerizing spectacle that draws crowds from far and wide.

Onam Games and Activities

Onam isn’t just about tradition; it’s also a time for games and fun. From the thrilling tug-of-war to the playful uriyadi, an activity involving breaking a suspended clay pot while blindfolded, these games add an element of excitement to the festivities.

Spiritual Significance of Onam

Beyond the merriment, Onam holds spiritual significance. It is a time for families to come together, seek blessings at temples, and express gratitude for the harvest and the abundance it brings.

Modern-Day Onam Celebrations

In today’s fast-paced world, Onam continues to evolve while holding onto its core traditions. Technology has enabled global Keralites to connect and celebrate together, bridging distances and keeping the spirit of Onam alive.


When Onam Is Celebrated: Onam stands as a testament to Kerala’s rich cultural tapestry and the enduring spirit of unity and togetherness. This festival encapsulates the essence of the state’s heritage, bringing together people of all backgrounds to celebrate a bountiful harvest and the enduring legacy of King Mahabali.

FAQs: When Onam Is Celebrated

  1. What is the significance of the Onam festival?

    Onam celebrates the homecoming of King Mahabali and is a time for unity, cultural festivities, and gratitude for the harvest.

  2. When does Onam usually occur?

    Onam falls during August or September, based on the Malayalam calendar.

  3. What is the traditional Onam Sadhya?

    Onam Sadhya is a lavish vegetarian feast served on banana leaves, featuring a variety of delectable dishes.

  4. How is modern technology changing Onam celebrations?

    Technology has enabled global Keralites to celebrate and connect during Onam, regardless of geographical distances.

  5. Tug-of-war, uriyadi (pot-breaking), and the Snake Boat Race (Vallamkali) are some exciting traditional Onam games.