Onam - The harvest festival of Kerala

The article describes about Onam which is the harvest festival of Kerala. Read this article to know more about the legend of Onam, the specialities of Onam festival and Vallam Kali which is the snake boat race.

Onam is one of the major festivals of Kerala. It is the harvest festival of Kerala and is celebrated for almost 4 to 10 days in all parts of Kerala. Onam is celebrated on the first month of Malayalam Calender, the Chingam month which falls in the month of August and September. The end of the festival is celebrated on the Thiruvonam Nakshatram day. Onam festival is made the National Festival of the state of Kerala. This festival have become very famous all over the world and many foreigners visit Kerala during this festival season to witness the boat race, Elephant dance and feast, carnival, the Pookolam arrangements and lots more.

How Onam is celebrated:

Early in the morning, the house is cleaned and a Pookolam is made in front of the house to welcome the spirit of the legendary king Mahabali.

The Legend: Mahabali is the asura king who ruled Kerala. He is the grand son of Prahalada. He gained lots of popularity and this became a great worry for the Gods and they requested Mahavishnu to help them. Mahavishnu took the form of a dwarf Brahmin (he is named Vamana and it one of the 10 avatars). Mahabali had the habit of giving anything asked for after his morning prayers and so Vamana asked for 3 feet of land. Just after getting that boon Vamana increased in size and took Vishwaroopam. With one step, Vamana covered the entire earth, and with other step, he covered the entire sky. There is no place to put the third step and so Mahabali asked Vamana to put the third step on his head and Vamana pushed him to the Patala. Vamana was so pleased by the generosity of Mahabali and granted him a boon. Mahabali was so attached to his country and people and so he asked for that boon, that he should visit his country every year. Onam is one festival, which is to welcome Mahabali.

Onam Specialities

Onam this year
This year Onam is celebrated on September 2nd.

Onam Sadaya
Though there are many recipes that are traditionally cooked for Onam, the Sadaya includes any 11 or 13.

The main dishes being, Parippucurry, Inithair, Sambar, Aviyal, Kalan, Olan, Thoran, Pulinji, Erissery, Kootucurry, Sarkarapurattu, Pradaman, Tomato Rasam, Vada and lot more.

Vallam Kali - The snake boar race
The most enchanting event of this Onam festival is Snake Boat race. This is a major tourist attraction of the state of Kerala. The Boat race is a gala event and thousands of people stand to watch it on the banks of the river Pamba at Aranmulla where there is a temple of Lord Krishna and Arjuna.

At the maximum 30 boats participate in this event and they have to race for about 40 kms. The oarsmen are dressed in white dhotis and turbans and sing the Vanchipattu. Each boat have 150 men in them and 25 of them are singers, and 125 are oars men and out of them 4 are helsmen. All the oars men of every boat, show a great team spirit and unitedly they work to win the race (a mistake by any one single person, overturns the boat).

A separate race for women also is conducted.

The winner team is awarded with the Nehru Trophy .

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, was so impressed by the team spirit shown by the members of each team and so to promote this race, he created a trophy.

Elephant Procession
Another gala event of Onam festival is the Thrissur Elephant procession. The elephants are decked in gold and look magnificient. The elephants are decorated with big golden plates on the forehead and they continue till the trunk. The designs on the plate are intricate and exquisitive designs. The elephants are decked with a very long stemmed umbrellas which are laced with intricate colours. They are also dressed with silk robes. They dance to the rhythm of the beats of the drum.

It is also a great feast to the eyes to see women dressed in traditional Onam Sarees. Half white sarees laced with golden borders.

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