Onam Festival

Onam Festival|All You Need to Know About The Biggest Festival in Kerala

Onam is an Important Festival in Kerala, India, also known as  Thiru Onam or Thiruvonam and Sravanmahotsav or Sravanotsavam, and is celebrated by people from all walks of life. It commemorates the visit of King Mahabali. Brings everyone together in happiness. Spanning ten days from August to September Onam is a display of Kerala culture starting with Atham and culminating in the finale of Thiruvonam.

This harvest festival holds significance, for both Hindus and the state of Kerala embodying the spirit of its culture. The intricate floral art known as Pookalam, the Onasadya feast exhilarating Snake Boat Races, and the captivating Kaikottikali dance are all parts of Onam Festival that invite everyone to immerse themselves in Kerala’s rich heritage.

Stay tuned to discover more about this festival.

What is the Origin of the Onam Festival?

Onam Festival

The Kerala Festival is rooted in the legend of Vamana, who is considered the incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu well as, the revered daitya king Mahabali. This festival commemorates their tale. This signifies King Mahabali’s homecoming to his kingdom. It serves as a tribute, to his benevolence, and devotion and exemplifies the values of sacrifice and togetherness.

Now let’s delve into the story behind Onam Festival and see why this festival is celebrated.

What’s the Story of the Onam?

Onam Festival

Once upon a time in the land of Kerala, a Great King Mahabali

was greatly adored for his kind and generous nature. However, the gods started to feel uneasy, about his growing power.

To alleviate their concerns Lord Vishnu disguised himself as a Brahmin dwarf called Vamana. Appeared before Mahabali during a grand ceremony. Vamana made a request asking for land that he could cover in three strides. Intrigued by this wish Mahabali agreed without hesitation.

Little did Mahabali know that Vamana’s strides were not ordinary; with one step he encompassed the Earth and with the next step he reached up into the skies. With no space left to explore Mahabali humbly offered his head for Vamana’s stride. Deeply moved by this act of humility Vamana granted him a blessing to be able to visit his people every year.

Kerala Festival celebrates this annual visit of King Mahabali, symbolizing his humility, sacrifice, and the enduring bond between a ruler and his people.

What is the History of the Onam Festival?

Onam Festival

Kerala Festival finds its historical roots in Hindu mythology and the legacy of King Mahabali, dating back thousands of years. It is believed to have emerged during the Sangam period, spanning approximately from 300 BCE to 300 CE, serving as a significant harvest festival marking the commencement of a fresh agricultural cycle.

Celebrated as the Raja Prabha Festival, Thiruvonam venerates the sagacious rule of the mythical demon king Mahabali. This revered festival in Kerala signifies King Mahabali’s annual return, lauding his virtuous leadership and fostering a deep cultural connection.

Today, Thiruvonam stands as a unifying celebration in Kerala, cherished by people of all backgrounds, transcending religious and cultural boundaries. It serves as a time for families to come together, exchange gifts, partake in traditional customs, and rejoice in the spirit of unity and abundance.

Now let’s talk about how the 10 days of the Thiruvonam festival are celebrated.

When Onam 2024 will be celebrated?

Onam 2024 will be celebrated from Thursday, September 5, 2024, to Tuesday, September 17, 2024.

How Onam Festival 10 Days are Celebrated?

As the Kerala Festival kicks off its vibrant celebrations, each day is celebrated with distinct rituals and customs. Here’s a glimpse of how each day is celebrated.

Day 1: Atham – The Festive Prelude Begins

Onam Festival

Atham marks the festival’s kickoff, filled with excitement and anticipation. Families across Kerala start preparing for the celebrations. It’s a day when people travel home to celebrate with their families. They engage in various activities, participating in Onam Dance, and Thiruvonam music, and eagerly anticipate the upcoming events.

Day 2-4: Chithira to Vishakam – Floral Artistry Unfolds

Onam Festival

These days buzz with artistic fervor as homes and streets come alive with vibrant Pookalams. Families gather flowers to create stunning designs, symbolizing joy and prosperity. It’s a beautiful sight, showcasing the essence of the Onam Flower Festival.

Day 5-7: Anizham to Moolam – Dance, Revelry, and Competitions

Onam Festival

These days are filled with vibrant energy. People engage in dance competitions and revel in cultural performances. They immerse themselves in the mesmerizing beats of traditional music, joining in the festivities with gusto.

Day 8-9: Pooradam to Uthradom – Thrilling Races and Feast Preparations

Onam Festival

Excitement peaks during these days as the iconic Onam Boat RaceVallamkali takes an atmosphere charged with enthusiasm and competitive spirits. Meanwhile, households bustle with preparations for the grand Onam Feast or Onam Sadya. Families gather to cook and savor the delicious traditional dishes, including crispy Pappadams.

Day 10: Thiruvonam – The Grand Culmination

Onam Festival

Thiruvonam dawns, the most significant day of the festival. Families unite for a joyous reunion and to partake in the splendid Onam Feast. The entire day is dedicated to elaborate rituals and relishing the diverse delicacies served on banana leaves.

Day 11: Avvittom – Reflecting on Festive Memories

Onam Festival

Avvittom marks the end, a day for introspection and reminiscing about the delightful moments experienced during the festival. It’s a time to cherish the vibrant memories created during the celebrations and to bid farewell to the bustling energy of the festival, which resonates with the spiritedness of Tiger Dancing Festivals in the World.

Throughout these ten days, This festival resonates with the vibrancy of Pookalam, the spiritedness of Onam dance and music competitions, the thrill of the boat race, and the delightful flavors of the Onam Feast. It’s a festival brimming with cultural richness, uniting families and communities in joyous celebrations.

Onakalikal (Onam Festival Games)

Onam Festival

The games played during the Kerala Festival are as follows:

  • Talappanthukali:  A popular ball game.
  • Kayyankali: A combat sport emphasizing strength and fought one-on-one without weapons.
  • Attakalam: Another combat game played in batches, less aggressive than Kayyankali.
  • Ambeyyal: An archery game testing skill and precision.
  • Kutukutu: Similar to Kabaddi, a challenging game requiring strength, speed, and tactics.

Onam Dances

Onam Festival

The games played during the Onam Festival are as follows:

  • Thiruvathira Kali Dance: A captivating all-women dance showcasing grace and unity during Thiruvathira celebrations.
  • Kathakali: A unique dance-drama with unparalleled performances, prominently featured during this Thiruvonam festival in Shoranur, Kovalam, and Cheruthuruthy.
  • Kaikottikali (Thiruvathirakali): An immensely popular folk dance performed by maidens, reflecting the spirit of Thiruvathira.
  • Thumbi Thullal: An entertaining all-women dance and singing event, providing women with their share of fun during Thiruvonam festivities.
  • Kummattikali: Colorful mask dance performed in South Malabar during Thiruvonam, featuring performers collecting gifts and entertaining people.
  • Pulikali (Kaduvakali): A vibrant folk art where trained artists paint themselves as tigers, enacting hunting scenes to amuse audiences.

Who Celebrates this Onam Festival?

Mostly, the Thiruvonam Festival is celebrated by the people living in Kerala. It’s a big deal for them, bringing everyone together to enjoy and honor their cultural traditions.

How to Greet Happy Onam?

Greeting someone for this festival can be as simple as saying “Happy Onam” or its equivalent in Malayalam, “Onashamsakal.” Another traditional way to Wish Onam is “Niraparaadhi Nilavilakkum Samrudhiyudeyum Onasamsakal!” which signifies well wishes for prosperity.

Onam Quotes to Celebrate the Festival

May the colors and lights of Thiruvonam fill your home with happiness and joy!
Let the spirit of Onam guide you towards an abundance of peace and prosperity.
As the pookalam decorates the floor, may joy and harmony adorn your life this Onam.

Onam SMS or Thiruvonam Festival Messages to Share the Festive Spirit

“Wishing you and your family a Happy Onam filled with love, laughter, and prosperity!”
“May this Onam bring joy and prosperity to your doorstep. Happy Onam!”
“Sending heartfelt Onam wishes your way. Have a joyful celebration!”

Is Onam Celebrated by Other Religions Too?

The celebration of Onam among Muslims has been a topic of discussion within various sections of Islam. In Kerala, a state known for its diversity, Christian and Muslim communities, constituting a significant portion of the population, actively engage in the celebrations. While Christian churches put their unique spin on the festivities, many Muslims also partake in the cultural events associated with Onam.

For these communities, the Onam Festival is perceived more as a cultural celebration rather than a strictly religious one. The symbolism it holds for the Hindu community is acknowledged and respected, fostering a sense of unity and inclusivity within the diverse fabric of Kerala. Despite occasional concerns raised within segments of Islam, the overall perspective among these communities is to embrace the cultural significance of the Thiruvonam festival, appreciating it as a shared celebration that unites people across religious boundaries.

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What is Onam and why is it celebrated?

Onam is a harvest festival celebrated to honor the legendary King Mahabali’s return. It marks a joyous occasion symbolizing his homecoming. The festival highlights cultural richness and gratitude for a bountiful harvest, bringing communities together to commemorate King Mahabali’s virtuous rule and the spirit of prosperity he represents.

Is Onam halal or haram?

The question of whether this festival is deemed halal or haram among Muslims has sparked discussions. Some Muslim reformists have urged fellow Muslims to abstain from participating in the festival. Their perspective encourages refraining from involvement in this festival, aligning with certain beliefs and interpretations within the Muslim community. This viewpoint emphasizes caution and discretion regarding Muslim participation in the festivities associated with Onam.

Do Christians celebrate Onam?

Yes, Christians in Kerala often participate in Onam celebrations. The festival holds cultural significance beyond religious boundaries, and Christians, along with people of other faiths, engage in the festivities, appreciating its cultural and communal aspects rather than purely religious ones.

How many days Onam is celebrated in Kerala?

Onam in Kerala is celebrated over ten days, marking a vibrant and extensive festival period filled with various rituals, cultural events, and joyous gatherings.

Is Rangoli Haram in Islam?

In Islam, anything associated with kufr (disbelief) connotations is considered prohibited. While the concept of Rangoli itself isn’t inherently prohibited, certain designs or symbols that carry kufr connotations should be avoided by Muslims due to their religious significance. The broader principle emphasizes abstaining from elements connected to beliefs conflicting with Islamic teachings.

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