|Onam festival, Food NDTV|
|Onam festival flower decoration - Alamy|
Onam festival is held in the Malayalam calendar month of Chingam,(Gregorian calendar overlaps with August–September. The festival also associated with harvest is elebrated by the Malayalees in Kerala and across India; this festival assumes great importance for Malayalee diaspora around the world.
Onam is so important a festival the state enjoys a four day holiday from Onam eve. The highlight of Onam is though it is a Hindu festival, non-Hindus participate in large number and it is more a cultural festival than a religious festival.
It is associated with numerous cultural and religious events such as Vallam Kali (boat races), Pulikali (tiger dances), Pookkalam (flower arrangement), Onathappan (worship), Thumbi Thullal (women's dance), Kummati kali (mask dance), Onathallu Atthachamayam (folk songs and dance),etc.
The ten day cerebration is as follows:
Day 1- Atham: People visit temples in the morning; demon king Mahabali begins his journey from the pathal world.
Atthachamayam, begins with a grand procession at Thrippunithura near Kochi. This place where Mahabali is purported to have beenbanished from earth. Traditional Onam pookolam begings on this day. The size of flowers will increase as the festival progresses through days. The size of Pookalam on this day is called as Athapoo.
Day 2- Chithira: Much importance to given to cleanliness of the house, so, it is well cleaned, swept and whitewashed. As for pookplam (Rangoli), a second layer is added.
Day 3 - Chodhi: Normal puja activities continue
asusal and the pookolam becomes bigger now, by adding different layers of flowers. This day is spent on shopping - buying gifts, new clothing, jewellery, etc.
Day 4 - Vishakam: Being an auspicious day onam begins in the families with each family member doing something worthwhile. Several varieties of food are made. Merchants in food grains open their business today.
Day 5 - Anizham: It is a day of fun as organisers of snake boat races get their boats ready after doing major repair works, etc. Boat races at Aranmula Uthrattathi Vallamkali are famous.
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Day 6 - Thriketa: This day provides an opportunity for the family members to visit their ancestral homes and pay obeisance to the elders to get their blessings. They also exchange gifts. Traditional pookolam is maintained and at least 5 to 6 flowers are added to the original design.
Day 7 - Moolam: On this day at many temples special sadhyas are held. The speciality is the conducting of Ona Sadya (Onam special buffet lunch) at many places. This day gives importance to entertainment. Many traditional dances that have been in vogue for a pretty long time assume prominence. Mention may be made of Puli Kali (Masked leopard dance) and traditional dance forms like Kaikotti Kali. Yet another interesting feature is fin some places people decorate a swing with flowers to celebrate the king's homecoming..
Day 8 - Pooradam: This day assumes much importance as Mahabali is purported to visit the houses. Mahabali is nicknamed Onathappan. The statues of Vamana and Mahabali are taken around the house and placed in the center of the much bigger and more complex Pookalam.
Day 9 - Uthradam: Tradition has it that demon king Mahabali will stay right here and visit his erstwhile kingdom. This day is set aside for purchasing provisions need for the Thiruvonam day, including fresh fruits and vegetables. This day is believed to be Onam Eve.
Day 10 - Thiruvonam: It is the final day of the festivaland people put welcome sign at the entrance of the cleaned house by applying white flour paste. Family members after taking early bath in the early morning, put on new dresses. Tradition has it that elders in the family distribute the new clothes among the family members. Pujas are conducted in the house. To day is marked by Onam sadya feasts in many places, illumination of the temples, colorful fireworks display,etc.