ONAM – the festival of colour in Kerala

Onam is one of the famous festivals of the colourful India. It is actually a major event  of kerala. The people inside and outside of Kerala enjoy it too much. It is a harvest festival . 

According to history, Onam has a long religious context and history of Kerala. According to an earlier reference , Onam is found in Maturaikkaci – a Sangam ers Tamil poem. It says that when games and duels were held in Madurai temple , immolation was sent to the temple , then  the people wore new clothes and celebrated it. On the other hand , in the 9th-century according to Pathikas and Ballads by Periyazharwar , Onam is celebrated as offerings to Vishnu God with feasts and community events. 

According to Kurup  , Onam is a historical hindu-temple based cultural festival which is celebrated for many days. This is a harvest festival and its significance is of 2 Hindu-legends, Mahabali legend and Parashurama legend.

According to the Malayalam calendar Chingam is the 1st month  and the Onam is celebrated in this month. It is marked as the Malayalam New Year. It is celebrated over 10 days and concludes with Thiruvonam. The ten days are sequentially known as Atham, Chithira, Chodhi, Vishakam, Anizham, Thriketta, Moolam, Pooradam, Uthradam and Thiruvonam. The first and the last day are particularly important in Kerala and to Malayalee communities elsewhere.

The 1st day of this festival is Atham ws marked at Vamanamoorthy Thrikkakara temple in Kochi. This temple is the focal center of this festival and the abode of Mahabali legend with raising their festive flag. There are celebrated the parades and those are colourful ,whimming  and floating.

On other days there are celebrated different types of events like boat races which are most popular and stunning , different types of cultural programmes , martial arts, dance, rangoli etc.  People celebrate their times in those days by shopping, donating time or food for the charities and spending quality times with family. The men and women wear their traditional dress . Basically women wore Kasavu saree on this day. 

At Tripunithura near Kochi the Onam is celebrated with a grand procession which is called ‘Athachamayam’ , it is also addressed by ‘Thripunithura Athachamayam’. There are elephant marching, drum beats and other music , floats, folk art forms and colourful dressed people and with their masks which is wonderful. According to Kerala history the Kochi king conducted a grand military procession which has now become a state-supported event

There are epic scenes from Mahavarat and Ramayana in this traditional float procession . There are also themes from the Bible .From Tripunithura to the Vamanamoorthy Temple in Thrikkakara, Ernakulam district , is the traditional path. It is  the temple of Vishnu in his Vamana (dwarf) avatar. After arrival at the temple, the marchers offer a prayer.

In this festival ‘Pookalam’ , which is called floral rangoli in general, is an attraction. It is known as Onapookalam or Pookalam. There are so many types of flower, basically marigold is the main blossom. It is decorated particularly at the entry point and temple premises like a flower mat. On Atham the Pookalam is called Athspoo and for this day it is comparatively small in size. It grows in size gradually with each day of this festival. In this Pookalam the Dasapushpam (10 types of flower) is used. In Kerala Pookalam competitions are common everywhere on Onam day.

In this festival there are so many types of traditional dance performed like Kathakali , Pulikali, Kummattikali, Thumbi Thullal, Onam Kali etc. Thiruvathira Kali is a women’s dance, where they circle around a lamp. Kummattikali , which is a colorful-mask dance. In Thrissur, festivities include a procession consisting of caparisoned elephants surrounded by Kummatikali dancers. Onam Kali is a form of dance where players circle around a pole or tree or lamp,dance and sing songs from the Ramayana and other epics.  Kathakali is the most famous dance type. 

Pulikali is a different type of dance which is known as Kaduvakali during this festival where the performer is painted like tigers in bright yellow, red and black, and dances to the beats of instruments like Chenda and Thakil. It is a type of folk dance.

Another amazing part of this festival is Vallamkali which is a snake boat race. In this boat race numerous oarsmen row huge snake-shaped boats and men and women come from far and near to watch and cheer the snake boat race through the water. Particularly it happened on the Pampa River.

The Onam sadya, which is the feast, is  another amazing part of Thiruvonam and it is observed in every Keralite attempt . Chips , Sharkaraveratti ,Pappadam, various vegetable and soups such as Injipuli, Thoran, Mezhukkupuratti, Kaalan, Olan, Avial, Sambhar, Dal served along with a small quantity of ghee, Erisheri, Moloshyam, Rasam, Puliseri, Kichadi and Pachadi, Moru , Pickles both sweet and sour, and coconut chutney are the menu.

So it is the very interesting festival of our colourful India which is more colourful and delightful to us.