Happy Onam 2010

anjkhoney IF-Dazzler

Joined: 27 July 2008
Posts: 2683

Posted: 21 August 2010 at 10:44am | IP Logged

       Onam is the biggest festival in the South Indian state of Kerala. It falls during the first month of Malayalee calendar which is Chingam (August'September) and marks the homecoming of the legendary King Mahabali. The festival lasts for ten days and is linked to many elements of Kerala's culture and tradition.
            Onam is one of the most significant harvest festivals of Kerala which is also is an attraction for thousands of people outside and within the state..People wear new clothes,put pookkalam(floral designs),have a grand feast and enjoy the day with music, dance, sports, boat races.

Legend of Onam (Reign of King Mahabali)

                 The story goes that the beautiful state of Kerala was once ruled by an Asura (demon) king, Mahabali. Mahabali was the grandson of Prahlad (son of Hiranyakashyap who was slain by Vishnu in his Narasimha Avataram). Prahlad, despite being an Asura, had great faith in Vishnu. Mahabali learned the love and devotion of Vishnu from Prahlad's lap as a child.The King was greatly respected in his kingdom and was considered to be wise, judicious and extremely generous. It is said that Kerala witnessed its golden era in the reign of King Mahabali(Maveli).

Everybody was happy in his kingdom, there was no discrimination on the basis of caste or class. Rich and poor were equally treated. There was neither crime, nor corruption. People did not even lock their doors, as there were no thieves in that kingdom. There was no poverty, sorrow or disease in the reign of King Mahabali and everybody was happy and content.


 Gods felt challenged with the growing popularity of Mahabali. They seeked help from Lord Vishnu who was worshiped by King Mahabali. Lord Vishnu took the avatar of a poor and dwarf Brahmin, called Vamana and came to the kingdom of Mahabali just after his morning prayers, when the King gave boons to the Brahmin.

 The disguised Lord Vishnu asked for as much land as could be covered by his three steps. The King made a promise to do so. Suddenly, Vamana increased to a massive size. With his one step he covered the whole of the sky and with the other he covered the whole of earth. He then asked for a place to put his third step. King realised that the boy was no ordinary Brahmin and asked Vamana to to put his third step on his head.

 The boy did so, pushing Mahabali in the nether world, the patala. Lord Vishnu was pleased with King Mahabali generosity and granted him a boon. Deeply attached with his people, the King said he would like to visit Kerala and his people every year. As Lord Vishnu was very pleased with his devotee,he happily granted Mahabali's request. It is this homecoming of King Mahabali that is celebrated as Onam every year.

                 Onam lasts from four to ten days. First day, Atham and tenth day, Thiruonam are most important of all. This year its celebrated from August 14 to August 23,

Atham- The first day of Onam Celebrations

                   Onam starts with Atham day in the Malayalam month of Chingam. Its believed that King Mahabali start his preprations to descend from heaven to Kerala on this day. The day also marks the start of festivities at Thrikkara Temple (considered as abode of Mahabali). The Onam celebrations across the state, starts off with a grand procession at Thrippunithura near Kochi called 'Athachamayam'

                 The traditional ritual of laying Pookalam (floral carpet) starts on Atham day. The size of pookalam on this day is called as Athapoo and will small which eventually grew day after day.

Only yellow flowers will be used on this day and the design will be simple. Also the statues of Mahabali and Vamanan will be installed on the entrance of each house on this day.

Uthradam- The ninth day of Onam Celebrations

              Uthradom (August 22nd 2010) is the ninth and the penultimate day of the festival of Onam. It is considered as Onam eve and celebrated in a very big way. The importance of this day is last minute extreme shopping frenzy called as Uthradapachal and is considered the most auspicious day for purchase of fresh vegetables and fruits along with other provisions from the Thiruonam day.

          Uthradam is known as FIRST ONAM because it marks the day when King Mahabali descends Kerala and the traditional myths says that the king will spend the next four days touring his erstwhile kingdom and blessing the subjects. Due to this Urthadom is celebrated in a very pompous manner with larger pookalam and celebrations in household. The Urthada lunch is very famous tradition. Women normally cuts the first set of vegetables on this day that marks the celebrations of Thiruonam in each household and preparations for grand Onam buffet starts in evening of Uthradom day.

Thiruonam- The tenth day of Onam Celebrations

               The tenth and the most important day of Onam celebrations is known as Thiru Onam or the Tiru Onam(Sacred Onam).People believe that it is on the tenth day that Lord Mahabali comes to visit his people. Thiruvonam falls on August 23 this year

              Elaborate preparations are made to celebrate Thiru Onam in the grandest possible way. Activities begin early in the morning. People clean their house, smear the main entrance with rice-flour batter (a traditional welcome sign), take early bath, wear new clothes and distribute alms to needy. The eldest female member of each family presents clothes to all the members of the family. Special prayers and Masses are organized in temples, churches and mosques that highlight the secular nature of festival. Later a very special and the biggest of all days, Pookalam is prepared to welcome Mahabali.


             The most important activity of Thiruonam is the grand Thiruona-Sadya, well known for being one of the most sumptuous feasts ever prepared by mankind. The level of sumptuous varies at each individual household, however every household tries to make as grand as possible as they can. The feast served on plantain leaves have more than 13 to 15 curries apart from other regular items. In hotels and temples, number of curries and dishes can go upto 30 for the feast. Whatever may happen no malayalee will miss the Grand ona-sadya. There is a saying in Malayalam that "Kanam Vittum Onam Unnanam" which means "We should have the Thiruvonam lunch even if we have to sell all our properties" which shows the importance of the grand lunch on the Thiruvonam day.


Wishing you all Happy Onam

Ellarkum Ende Hridayam Niranja Onaashamsakal

Edited by anjkhoney - 21 August 2010 at 11:56am

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anjkhoney IF-Dazzler

Joined: 27 July 2008
Posts: 2683

Posted: 21 August 2010 at 10:46am | IP Logged

Onam Special


           'Pookhalam' consists of two words, 'poov' meaning flower and 'kalam' means colour sketches on the ground. It is considered auspicious to prepare Pookalam, also known as 'Aththa-Poo' during the festival of Onam.
People believe the spirit of their dear King Mahabali visits Kerala at the time of Onam. Besides making several other arrangements, people, especially adolescent girls prepare elaborate Pookalams to welcome their most loved King.

Various flowers are used on each day as a specific flower is dedicated to each day of Onam. Commonly used flowers include Thumba (Lucas Aspera), Kakka Poovu, Thechipoovu, Mukkutti (little tree plant), Chemparathy (shoe flower), Aripoo or Konginipoo (Lantana), Hanuman Kireedom (Red pagoda plant) and Chethi (Ixora). Of all these flowers, Thumba flowers are given more importance in Pookalam as they are small in size and glitter in the the soft rays of the sun. 'Thumba Poo' is also considered to be the favourite flower of Lord Shiva and King Mahabali was a devout worshipper of Shiva.

Earlier, people used to make efforts to collect flowers for designing a Pookalam. Children used to get up early in the morning and gather flowers in their small 'Pookuda' (basket) from the village gardens. These days, the trend has changed and people have the option of buying flowers from the market in the shape and colour of their choice.

Making of Pookalam is itself a colourful and joyous event. Being a team effort it helps to generate feeling of togetherness and goodwill amongst the people. It is animating to watch women as they prepare Pookalam while singing traditional songs. Giggling and sharing jokes between the thought provoking and back breaking job.

Onapaattu (Songs on Onam)


The following song describes the Golden Era  of Kerala
(during Mahabali's Rule)..
This song is often sung during Onam:

Maveli nadu vanidum kalam
When Maveli, our King, ruled the land
manusharellarum onnupole
All the people had equality.
amodathode vassikkum kalam
And people were joyful and merry;
apathangarkkumottilla thanum
They were all free from harm.

Adhikal vyadhikal onnumilla
There was neither anxiety nor sickness,
bala maranangal kelkkanilla
Death of the children was never even heard of,
kallavumilla chathiyumilla
There were no lies,
ellolamilla poli vachanam
And no one was false in speech either.

Kallapparayum cheru naziyum
Measures and weights were right;
kallatharangal mattonumilla "
No one cheated or wronged his neighbor.
Maveli nadu vanidum kalam
When Maveli, our King, ruled the land
manusharellarum onnupole
All the people had equality.

Kaikotti kali

Kaikottikali or Thiruvathirakali is an extremely popular folk dance performed by the maidens of Kerala.

It is a group dance and is mainly performed on the occasion of Onam and Thiruvathira. Women, both young and old submerge themselves in the spirit of the occasion and dance with perfect ease.


The Costume

Dress code of Kaikottikali is hugely impressive as women folk neatly attire themselves in a typical Kerala style. They wear gold bordered traditional two piece cloth called mundu and neriyathu; A mundu is a one piece cloth draped on the lower part of the body while neriyathu is worn over a blouse.

Women also beautifully tie their hair in a form of bun. A fragrant jasmine garland on the bun further enhances the charm of the dancer.


Onasadhya is the most delicious part of the grand festival called Onam. It is considered to be the most elaborate and grand meal prepared by any civilisation or cultures in the world. It's a feast which if enjoyed once is relished for years. 'Kaanam Vittu Onam Unnanam'..Its a popular saying based on Onam Feast
Ippo ellam having feast is not a big deal for many but in ancient times people were ready to sell everything they had to make and have this feast in their houses

Ippoyellam its diet season so desert ellame limited thaan but in olden days 5 types of Payasam different varities of Chips are served for this feast..

Onasadhya is prepared on the last day of Onam, called Thiruonam. People of Kerala wish to depict that they are happy and prosperous to their dear King Mahabali whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam.

The food has to be served on a tender Banana leaf, laid with the end to the left. The meal is traditionally served on a mat laid on the floor. A strict order of serving the dishes one after the another is obeyed. Besides, there are clear directions as to what will be served in which part of the banana leaf. First full course meal is served for Lord Ganapathi in front of a lighted oil lamp (Nila Vilakku). This is in accordance with the Malayalese trend of starting everything in the name and presence of God.

There is a distinct order of serving the the grand feast of Onam. Pappad or Pappadum is to be served on the extreme left. On top of the big pappadum banana is served. The banana can be 'Rasakadali', 'Poovan', 'Palayankodan'. From the right pappad - salt, banana wafers, sarkarapuratti fries are served. After this, ginger lime and mango pickles are served. Next comes 'vellarika', 'pavakka', beetroot and 'ullikitchadi'. 'Kitchadi' made of pineapple and banana splits or of grapes and apple is served along with this. On the right, 'cabbage thoran' is served. Then comes a thoran made of beans and avil followed by bread and green peas mix 'thoran'. The meal will be complete with the 'avial' and 'kootu curry'.


Pulikali is a colorful recreational folk art from the state of Kerala. It is performed by trained artists to entertain people on the occasion of Onam. 

Pulikali, also known as Kaduvaakali, is a 200 year old art, carefully preserved by the artists of the state. Literal meaning of Pulikali is the 'play of the tigers' hence the performance revolve around the theme of tiger hunting. The folk art is mainly practiced in Thrissur (Trichur) and Palghat districts of Kerala. Best place to watch the show is Swaraj Ground at Thrissur on the fourth day of Onam, where Pulikali troupes from all over the district assemble to display their skills.

The Appearance

Striking feature of this folk art is the colorful appearance of the performers. To get the semblance of a tiger artists paint themselves in bright yellow with patterns of black and red. A tiger mask on the face completes the get up.

It is a painstaking job and artists spend a whole night prior to the performance day on their make-up. Patience of artists must be appreciated, as most paints contain toxic chemicals which create a burning sensation when applied on newly shaved bodies.

Vallamkali Boat Race

Vallamkali or the Snake Boat Race is the most enchanting facet of the festival of Onam. The event is promoted as a major tourist attraction of the state of Kerala and draws a large number of domestic and international tourists.

Vallamkali has been going on for good number of years and its popularity is soaring with each passing year. Much credit for the success of Snake Boat Race can be attributed to Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru who was so enamoured by this colourful event that he instituted a trophy for the race.



Edited by anjkhoney - 21 August 2010 at 11:41am

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raaspach IF-Rockerz

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Posted: 21 August 2010 at 11:18am | IP Logged

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Aahaana Global Moderator

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Posted: 21 August 2010 at 12:16pm | IP Logged

To all of my Malayalee friends....Happy Onam...!Embarrassed

Ellavarkum ente thiruvonadina aashamsangalHug

Edited by Aahaana - 21 August 2010 at 3:38pm

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SweetyGreen IF-Sizzlerz

Joined: 04 December 2009
Posts: 13538

Posted: 21 August 2010 at 3:23pm | IP Logged
Here is some info regarding the Onam festival for u all from me...

Onam is the biggest festival in the Indian state of Kerala. It falls during the first month of the Malayalam calendar which is Chingam (August–September) and marks the homecoming of the legendary King Mahabali.

The festival lasts for ten days and is linked to many elements of Kerala's culture and tradition. Intricate flower carpets, elaborate banquet lunch, snake boat races and the kaikottikkali dance all play a part in the festival.

According to the legend, Kerala witnessed its golden era during the reign of King Mahabali. Everybody in the state was happy and prosperous and the king was highly regarded by his subjects. He was that much highly regarded among the subjects that even the Gods under Indra became jealous of Mahabali, they approached Mahavishnu claiming that Mahabali is now equivalent to an Indra. Since a world with two Indras represents imbalance, Mahavishnu assumed the form of a dwarf: the Vamana avatara and tricked him to Pathalam, the Underworld. However, as Mahabali is equal to an Indra, he is to wait until the next Yuga where he would be the Indra. In the meantime, with the grace of Mahavishnu, Mahabali visits his people on an annual basis. Mahavishnu serves Mahabali as a gatekeeper in the world of Pathalam as the Lord himself serves his greatest devotees.

It is this visit of Mahabali that is celebrated as Onam every year. People celebrate the festival in a grand way and impress upon their dear King that they are happy and wish him well.

The rich cultural heritage of Kerala comes out in its best form and spirit during the ten day long festival. The most impressive part of Onam celebration is the grand feast called Onasadya, prepared on Thiruonam. It is a nine course meal consisting of 11 to 13 essential dishes. Onasadya is served on banana leaves and people sit on a mat laid on the floor to have the meal.

Another enchanting feature of Onam is Vallamkali, the Snake Boat Race, held on the river Pampa. It is a colourful sight to watch the decorated boat oared by hundreds of boatmen amidst chanting of songs and cheering by spectators.

There is also a tradition to play games, collectively called Onakalikal, on Onam. Men go in for rigorous sports like Talappanthukali (played with a ball), Ambeyyal (Archery), Kutukutu and combats called Kayyankali and Attakalam. Women indulge in cultural activities. They make intricately designed flower mats called, Pookalam in the front courtyard of the house to welcome King Mahabali. Kaikotti kali and Thumbi Thullal are two graceful dances performed by women on Onam. Folk performances like Kummatti kali and Pulikali add to the zest of celebrations.

The most important things about Onam are the onakkodi, the new clothes worn on this day and onam sadya, a feast which is quite elaborate. This is usually a feast served on banana leaves and serves rice along with at least an array of 4 dishes. Traditional pickles and papadam are also served. Dessert is usually 'payasam', a sweet dish made of milk, sugar and other traditional Indian savories.

During Onam, people create a multi-coloured floral decoration on the ground in the front of their home called pookkalam. Young children especially girls are often entrusted with the task of gathering and laying out the flowers in elaborate patterns. Competitions are held on onam day to create this floral design. It is usually 1.5 m in Diameter usually in circular shape. A lamp is usually placed as part of the design. In the recent years, the floral designs have evolved from the traditional circular shape to unique designs depicting different cultural and social aspects of Kerala life.


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ammoos IF-Sizzlerz

Joined: 01 March 2008
Posts: 17527

Posted: 21 August 2010 at 8:28pm | IP Logged
Happy Onam friends.....Hug
Those who are not in US.. its already UTHRADAm.. have a delicious uthradam..
Thanks Anju.. for the details.. i thought of amking one but got lazyLOL
Ellavarkkum ente hridayam niranaja onasamsakal..Embarrassed

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Roshni. IF-Sizzlerz

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Posted: 21 August 2010 at 9:38pm | IP Logged

To all of them who are celebrating Onam, Wish you all a happy ONAM.Party

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atina IF-Rockerz

Joined: 19 January 2006
Posts: 9886

Posted: 21 August 2010 at 11:29pm | IP Logged
Hi friends ,
Wishing you all a very Happy Onam!!
Great post Anj....good job.

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