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Onam 2017: The Grand Festival of Kerala

Last Updated: 3/3/2017 4:09:32 PM

onam, 2017, date

Onam 2017 date is September 4. The festive season of Onam falls on the Malayalam month of Chingam, every year (August- September). Onam is also popularly known as Kerala's harvest festival, the people of Kerala express their gratitude towards God for the bountiful yield. Onam is a ten-day carnival celebrated with the great enthusiasm. Especially, Onam in Malabar is celebrated with great zeal. These ten days extravaganza, reflect the lavish culture and tradition of Kerala. The activities that are organized for ten days, the merger of Kerala sports and culture adds the beauty of the festival. Not just that, it contributes to the expansion of art, culture with the ancient Indian tradition, which are now being carry forwarded, so efficiently, by the present generations..

Onam in 2017, like every year, is celebrated to commemorate Vamana avatar and king Mahabali. According to the stories in Hindu epics, Mahabali, the legendary King of Kerala, visits the state every year during the Onam festival, to ensure the wellbeing of his people. He is welcomed to his kingdom with reverence. The festival is all about relishing on the grand Onam Sadya (traditional feast of Onam), shopping, family reunion and welcoming King Mahabali by spreading good cheer.

Onam : Legend behind the extravaganza

Just as in the case of every Indian festival, there are several interesting legends behind the origin of Onam. One of the most popular legend goes as, once lived a wise demon king Mahabali. He was highly regarded by his people and everybody was living a prosperous and content life during his ruling period. The adoration of king Mahabali by his people starts worrying the Lord Indra and the other Gods as well. They seeked help from Lord Visnu as a world having two Lord Indras symbolise an imbalance. Thus, Lord Vishnu took avatar of poor dwarf Brahmin (Vamana) and went to the king Mahabali. The dwarf asked Mahabali to grant him a boon, the disguised Lord Vishnu asked for as much land as could be covered by his three steps. Mahabali made a promise to do so. Suddenly, the dwarf enlarged to a gigantic size. With his one step he covered the whole of the sky and with the other he covered the whole of earth. He then asked for a place to put his third step. King realised that the boy was no ordinary Brahmin and asked the dwarf to put his third step on his head.

The boy did the same, pushing Mahabali into another world, the Patala. As Lord Vishnu was pleased with King Mahabali kindness he granted King a boon. The King said he would like to visit his people every year in order to ensure his people are happy. Lord Vishnu was pleased to grant the request.

Hence, it is this homecoming of King Mahabali that is celebrated as Onam every year. Onam is thus different from every other festival celebrated in India because it is a very rare festival, where a demon (that a good one) is worshipped. All the Malayali people, including children, worship King Mahabali and wish for his well-being.

About Onam Festival : Customs & Traditions

The Kerala is known for its rich culture and it is celebrated in its best form during Onam. Carnival of Onam encompasses a spectrum of fascinating activities.

Onam : Onam Sadya

The Onam Sadya is an extravaganza where people enjoy grand feast. Onam Sadya is a grand feast served on Banana leaves. It is a nine course meal and consist around 11 to 13 dishes south Indian dishes.

Onam : Snake boat race

The most enthralling and popular of all such customary events is the Vallamkali or the Snake Boat Race. The event is held just a few days before Thiru Onam. Though the event takes place at several places in the city. A large number of big and decorated boats called chundan vallam is participate with hundreds of boatmen. Rowing of boats on the rhythm provided by the songs and music of the drum makes it a captivating event.

Aranmula Uthrattathi during Onam

This is another magnificent boat event organised in connection with Onam. This annual event takes place on the day of Uthirattathi Asterism at Aranmula. It is believed that the Lord himself is present on all the boats hence there is no competition of any sort in this event. A large number of people come to watch the joyous event.

Onam : Procession of Decked Elephants

Trichur, the cultural capital of Kerala, marks the festival in its own beautiful style. Here a march of decorated elephants is carried out on the streets. It's a stunning site to watch the bejewelled elephants walking on the streets in their full majesty and grandeur.

Onam Celebrations at Cheruthuruthy

Onam celebrations at Cheruthuruthy are marked for the Kathakali performance by the best performers of the state. A large number of people gather around to watch the enactment of scenes from epics and folktales.

Onam : Pulikali/Kaduvakali Performance

In this performers take the disguise of tigers. They paint their bodies yellow with patterns of black and red similar to tigers. Scenes of tiger hunting goats and tigers being hunted by humans are beautifully depicted through this folk art.

Kummattikali during Onam Festival

This is another recreational folk dance from the state of Kerala, particularly South Malabar. Dressed in plaited grass and a huge colourful wooden mask, Kummattikali performers can be seen entertaining people on the festive occasion of Onam.

Onam : Athapoovu

A creative custom of Onam, Pookalam (hanging paper lamp) has come up as an art form. Competitions for decorating Pookalams are organised all over the state. They are extremely popular and witness the participation of large number of Pookalam designers and spectators.

Onam : Kaikotti kali

Kaikottikali is a graceful clap dance performed on the occasion of Onam. Women sing songs praising the legendary King Mahabali and dance around the pookalam. At the centre of this is placed a lit bronze lamp called nilavilakku. It is a captivating sight to watch troupe of female dancers performing in their traditional Kerala attire consisting of gold bordered off-white mundu-neriyathu and decked with a fragrant gajra in their hair.

Onam : Thumbi Thullal

Another performance oriented custom Thumbi Thullal a dance form, performed by a group of women who sit in the formation of circle. The lead performer sits inside the circle who initiates the song which is taken up by other singers

Onam : Onakalikal

A collective name for all the games played on the Onam. Traditional games of Onam constitute painstaking sports like Talappanthukali, Kutukutu and combats like Kayyankali and Attakalam.

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