Onam, the harvest festival of Kerala, brings in joy and unlimited fun in every house. The festival is celebrated in the Malayali month of Chingam ( Aug-Sept).
Apart from the celebration, Onam has a legendary history and is the reflection of faith of people of Kerala. Merriments of Onam continue for ten days. The first day or Atham and the last day, Thriu are the most important days.
Rituals of Onam:
The first day or Atham – The first day of Onam, Atham, marks the beginning of the celebrations. The day begins by offering prayers followed by creating a Pookalam, the flower carpet. With each passing day flowers are added to the Pookalam making it have a gargantuan appearance on the final day. The pookalam on this day is called Athapoo, done by girls in the courtyard and is done to welcome King Mahabali .
The last day or Thriu Onam-Preparations for this day kick starts by adding the final line for their respective pookalam and making it attractive by adding colorful flowers. The celebrations include cooking delicious dishes with the first harvest. The tradition of the youngsters enjoying swinging on the swing made with flowers is still a great time in villages of Kerala. Also the eldest member in the family present the gifts of harvest to all the family members. These presents can be vegetables, plantains, coconut oil etc and the special gift is called ‘Onakazhcha’ in Malayalam.
The day observes celebrations by dance and games which represent power. The women perform a special dance known as Kaikottikali and Thumbi Thullal. Thiruvonam or conical figures from sticky clay and are painted red. These conical figures are adorned with rice paste and are placed in the front courtyard. The conical figures represent the figure of Gods and are called as ‘Trikkakara Appan’.
Some of the common skylarking observed in Kerala during Onam includes games like Vallamkalu or the snake boat race and events like Kummatti kali and Pulikali. A dazzling display of fireworks adds to the celebrations. The whole state of Kerala appears to be engulfed in the bright lights and spirit of fun, frolic and prayers during Onam.
With the pookalam growing big on the floor, with vallamkali and pilukali on full swing, let this year’s harvest give you the best taste to your Onasadya.