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The festival of Onam is celebrated throughout the state of Kerala. Kerala during Onam is marked by happiness, excitement and enjoyment among all sections of people. Onam is celebrated as an outcome of reasons that have to do with mythology as well as old agrarian practices.

Onam is the biggest and the most important festival of the state of Kerala. It is a harvest festival and 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.

Carnival of Onam lasts from four to ten days. First day, Atham and tenth day, Thiruvonam are most important of all. Popularity and presentation of rich culture of the state during the carnival made Onam the National Festival of Kerala in 1961. Elaborate feasts, folk songs, elegant dances, energetic games, elephants, boats and flowers all are a part of the dynamic festival called Onam.

Government of India has taken due notice of this vibrant and colorful festival. It promotes Onam internationally in a big way and celebrates 'Tourist Week' for Kerala during Onam celebrations. Thousands of domestic and foreign tourists visit Kerala to be a part of Onam.

Four Events during the Onam Festival

1. Onappookkalam
2. Thiruvathirakkali
3. Boat Race
4. Pulikkal

Atham to Thiruvonam, the 10 Days of Onam

The Onam festival is celebrated for a period of 10 days. The first day you make preparations for Mahabali’s visit. A small Pookkolam (rangoli made of flowers) is made and as the days go by more flowers are added on the outer layer to make it big. This is also when they start making clay models of Mahabali and as the days progress the number of clay models increase. By the fourth day, it is time to start the cultural performances. And by the last day, everyone wears new clothes and get ready to welcome their King. On the Thiruvonam day, they welcome Mahabali with an elaborate feast. The ten days are in on the following order. This is very important to know in order to understand the purpose behind the Onam Festival.

  • Atham
  • Chithira
  • Chodhi
  • Visakham
  • Anizham
  • Thriketa
  • Moolam
  • Pooradam
  • Uthradam
  • Thiruvonam

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