My India – Festivals
Festivals of India – Onam
Onam is an ancient ten day harvest festival celebrated by the people of Kerala in honor of mythical King Mahabali’s annual visit from the netherworld to see his people living happily.
The ten days of Onam are celebrated with great fanfare in the month of Chingam, the first month of Malayalam calendar. Of all these days, most important ones are the first day, Atham, and the tenth and final day, Thiru Onam. In 2014, Thiru Onam is on Sunday, September 7.
The rich cultural heritage of Kerala comes out in its best form and spirit during the festival.
Some of the rituals performed during Onam are:
Tripunithura Athachamayam (Royal Parade), Pookalam (Floral Carpet), Pulikalli (Tiger Play), Onam Sadya (Feast), Vallamkali (Snake Boat Race) etc.
The Onam pictures below reveal the color and splendor of the celebrations:
Tripunithura Athachamayam (Royal Parade)
Tripunithura Athachamayam is a colorful festival that takes place on Atham in Tripunithura, near Ernakulam in Kochi to mark the beginning of Onam.
Pookalam (Floral Carpet)
Festivities commence on Atham with people decorating the ground in front of their houses with flowers arranged in beautiful patterns (pookalam) to welcome the King.
Pulikalli (Tiger Play)
Hundreds of grown men dressed up as tigers and dancing to the beat of traditional percussion instruments are an unexpected feature of Onam celebrations. There are prizes for the best dressed tiger, and best dance.
Onam Sadya (Feast)
The Onam Sadya is the grand feast served on plantain leaves and consists of about 26 dishes. It is served on Thiru Onam.
Vallamkali (Snake Boat Race)
Vallamkali is another highlight of the Onam festival. Well-known races include the Aranmula Boat Race and the Nehru Trophy Boat Race.
The most popular event of the race is the competition of Chundan Vallams (snake boats). Hence the race is also known as Snake Boat Race.
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