In India harvest festivals are very popular, because this majestic nation was mostly an agrarian society in the medieval and ancient times. Lohri in Punjab and Onam in Kerala are such harvest festivals, which showcase the local culture as well. Onam is the biggest festival of the state of Kerala, which continues for as long as ten days without any break. It is celebrated to mark the homecoming and coronation of ancient mythical Emperor Mahabali. The festival showcases the rich culture and heritage of Kerala.
Onam is celebrated in the beginning of the Malayalam Calendar. Monday, September 04, 2017 is the date this year, when Thiru Onam, the most important day of the festival falls. However, the associated festivals and rituals begin as early as 10 days prior to Thiru Onam. The celebrations of first Onam will start from September 04, this year, when Atham, the first day of the festival falls.
Onam is celebrated in the southern state of Kerala in India. It is considered to be the biggest cultural festival of the state. The cities where major celebrations take place include Kottayam, Trivandrum, Kochi and Thrissur etc. The entire festival is celebrated as tourism week by the Kerala state government. The rich hues of Malayalam culture are beautifully showcased during the festival season.
The main festivity includes decorating the ground in front of the houses using flowers. Beautiful patterns are made with a variety of flowers, which marks the welcome ceremony of the mythical King. It is also known as Pookalam. The best part of the festival is the food served on banana leaves, which is an amazing experience for the tourists. The others festivities include wearing colorful clothes, participating in sports, local dances, games and most importantly the snake boat races, which is the signature festivity of the state.
The two weeks of Onam celebrations comprise of a variety of festivities and attractions. We have listed the five major festival attractions below, which you can enjoy and participate in. However, don't miss to see the beautiful floral carpets known as Onam pookalams.1.Thripunithura Athachamayam
Athachamayam festival marks the beginning of Onam. This is the colorful inauguration of the festival featuring a street parade. This amazing street parade includes various Kerala art forms, dancers, decorated elephants, carnival floats and musicians etc.
This parade is actually organized to mark the similar march of the Maharaja of Kochi, when he used to ride the elephant to visit Thrikkakara Temple on his way from Tripunithura, his native place. The general public welcomed and greeted the Maharaja with floral decorations. Streets were decorated and stalls were arranged as part of the festivity.
Onam is also known as a Festival of delicacies and recipes, when you can enjoy some glorious Kerala foods. It includes more than 20 wonderful curries served on a banana leaf. Restaurants in every nook and corner of Kerala offer this tasty treat.
The best part of the Onam Festival in Kerala is its snake boat races. The Aranmula Boat Race being the oldest and the most popular boat race in Kerala attracts the largest crowds of spectators. It is more of a traditional ritual than a racing competition having some religious connection. The race comprises of some 50 boats participating in it. It begins in the afternoon until all of the religious rituals are completed.
You can call it a tiger festival, where hundreds of people dress up as tigers and dance to the beats of traditional music to mark Onam celebrations. It looks like as if it's a quirky festival, but it has some serious connotations as well. To dress-up and decorate a person as a tiger takes around four hours of hard work. The entire body or a person is painted, which they wash with kerosene oil afterwards. The tiger dance is followed by the prize ceremony, where the best dressed tiger is awarded.
Apart from all this, the weeklong celebrations are held in greater Trivandrum area. The hotspot of the events is Vellar Tourist Village, which is located in Kovalam.