The festival of Onam continues for ten days in the state of Kerala. In some regions of the state, festivities are restricted to four to six days only. However, the scholars say that the festivities have toned down a lot in the present time. In the earlier days, Onam was celebrated for a month and much more lavishly.
Nevertheless, Onam is still celebrated with gaiety and joy on all the ten days of the festivities. There are some set rituals for each day and the people of Kerala dutifully follow them. The mood of people is upbeat all through the festival. Of all these days the first day Atham and the tenth day Thiruvonam are the most significant ones. Ninth day Uthradam is also considered to be extremely important from the point of view of the celebrations in several parts of Kerala.
Atham is the first day of festivities in the ten-day-long Onam carnival. This day of Atham comes ten days before the asterism Onam or Thiru Onam. Hence Atham is regarded as holy and auspicious by the traditional people of Kerala.
Chithira is the second day of celebrations in the ten-day-long Onam festivities. There are not any marked rituals for this day but people offer their prayers to evoke the divine blessings.
Third day of the ten day long festival of Onam is called Chothi or chodi. The day is marked by lots of activities. Frenzied shopping can be witnessed in all the market place as everybody buys new clothes and accessories for the grand festival of Onam.
Vishagam or Visakam is the fourth day of the Onam festivities. Since the number of days left for the big days are few now, the excitement becomes obvious among the people of Kerala. Brisk activities in the market and households can be witnessed on the day of Visakam.
Anizham is the fifth day of Onam celebration. A major attraction of this day is the grand Snake boat race event called Vallamkali, which takes place on the fifth day of Onam. This hugely popular competition happens on the banks of river Pamba at Aranmulla. A multitude of domestic and international tourists come to witness the colorful spectacle of the race.
Thriketa is the sixth day of the carnival of Onam. A feeling of joy and happiness can be felt amongst the people of Kerala at this time. Cultural programmes and social gatherings are organized by various cultural societies all over the world. People of all caste and religion participate in these events, as the festival of Onam has become a secular festival.
Moolam is the seventh day of the festival of Onam. With just two days left for the festival now, enthusiasm grips the state of Kerala. There is hustle-bustle everywhere as the excited people do their last bit of shopping. People get to feel that the time of meeting their Onathappan has just come.
Pooradam is the eighth day of the ten-day long carnival of Onam. On this day the devotees create clay idols called Ma. As the idol is created on the day of Pooradam, it is also called Poorada Uttigal. Each Ma is decorated with flowers.
On the day of Uthradam, the tenants and dependents of large traditional joint families bring the produce of their farms or the product of their toil to the Karanavar (eldest member of the Tarawad). These gifts from the tenants to the Karanvar are called Onakazhcha. Karanvar greets these people warmly and treats them with a sumptuous meal on Thiru Onam.
On this day the enchanting state of Kerala reverberates with the chants of Onaashmsakal, "To everyone, Onam Wishes". According to the people, the spirit of legendry King Mahabali visits the state of Kerala.