Onam heralds the return of King Mahabali to Kerala as people go all out to celebrate the spectacular festivities that go for ten days. With Onam making an annual appearance, Malayalis everywhere leave no expense to make sure that their celebrations remain memorable. Staying true to their traditions that are symbolically laden, Onam celebrations are certainly a remarkable affair that everyone needs to witness, as you see the rich Malayali culture in all its colors. Spanning for ten days, Onam festivities are a fun-filled affair with all separate rituals that everyone looks ahead to, which are as follows-
Attam marks the beginning of ten days long Onam celebrations with Pokallam, an elaborate flower carpet used to decorate the courtyard. Besides the colorful Pokallam, a swing decked with flowers is hung in every home and Onam related melodies harped out by the ladies to herald this auspicious occasion.
Chithira is reserved for temple visits and offering prayers along with refreshing the Pokallam with new designs and flowers. As tradition mandates, the Pokallam becomes more extravagant as the days proceed.
Chodhi is the third day of Onam where people go shopping to buy gifts friends and family which will be exchanged later. Markets are also brimming with excitement and new baubles. Also, the pokallam continues to be adorned with beautiful flowers
The shopping spree continues with Visakam as people leave no expenses when it comes to sadhya preparation. With family members, both male and female contributing with a dish of their own to make the sadhya meal a grand affair with as many dishes as possible.
Anizham commences with the infamous snake boat race also known as Vallamkali in the Aranmulla district on the banks of river Pamba that is streaked with elongated boats and hundreds of men rowing them. This fun occasion cannot be missed and is impatiently anticipated while bringing out the competitive side of people.
Thirekta is the sixth day of Onam celebrations as families and friends gather together and extra layers added to the pokallam. Also, many families visit their ancestral homes to celebrate the occasion and make sure that their celebrations remain memorable.
Moolam is revered as a grand affair with families visiting each other. Other attractions include the famous Pulikali, the masked dance performed by men painted with yellow and black stripes like a tiger dancing to the rhythm of dilapidated drums. Similarly, the ladies of the house participate in Kaikotti Kali, an elegant synchronized dance that involves going around in clockwise and anti-clockwise motion.
Pooradam commemorates the arrival of Lord Mahabali and little figurines (Onathappan) of both Mahabali and Vishnu adorning the spectaculars pokallam as women clean and beautify their houses.
Uthradam marks the eve of Onam as people buy vegetables necessary to prepare the Onasadya-the traditional Onam vegetarian feast. With the excitement for the final day fueling, everybody does their best to contribute to the day’s festivities.
Thirvuvonam is the conclusion to Onam celebrations as people engage in oil baths, donning onakoddi which is the traditional garb as both men and women don white starched sarees and mundu. The main attraction is Onasadya, with people feasting on the sumptuous dishes that sometimes exceed twenty and thirty. Followed by Onakalli, the traditional games played in the evening, Onam celebrations are a grand affair that leaves everyone spellbound.
This grandiose event is anticipated as even people outside the country send Onam gifts online to show their participation for the festivities.