The enchanting festivities of Onam 2023, a significant cultural celebration in the state of Kerala, have graced the calendar from August 20 to August 31 this year. Stretching over a span of ten days, the Thiru-Onam or Thiruvonam celebrations carry an air of excitement and exuberance as they commemorate the return of the revered King Mahabali, also known as Maveli. This vibrant festival is an emblem of Kerala’s rich heritage and cultural splendor.
Onam 2023, Rituals
Onam: The Rice Harvest Festival of Kerala
Onam is a vibrant and culturally rich festival celebrated in the state of Kerala. This ten-day festival holds deep significance and is a unifying celebration for people of all religions.
Pookkalam: Symbolic Floral Designs
- The festival is marked by intricate floral designs known as ‘pookkalam’.
- Women create these designs on the ground with flowers and lit lamps.
- Pookkalam is a symbolic gesture to welcome King Mahabali to homes.
Onakkodi: New Clothes and Gifting
- People wear new clothes known as ‘Onakkodi’ to mark the occasion.
- Gifting is a common tradition during Onam.
Onam Sadya: The Grand Feast
- ‘Onam Sadya’ is a grand feast prepared during the festival.
- It typically includes around 13 dishes served on banana leaves.
- Rice, various dishes, pickles, and papads are part of the feast.
- ‘Payasam’, a sweet dish made of rice, milk, sugar, and coconut, is a must.
Vallamkali: The Boat Race
- ‘Vallamkali’ or boat race is a significant Onam event.
- Snake boats, rowed by hundreds of oarsmen, compete in this grand race.
- Cash rewards are distributed as prizes for the winners.
- Elephants adorned with ornaments are a characteristic of Onam processions.
Thrikkakara Appan and Worship
- ‘Thrikkakara Appan’ or ‘Onathappan’ (Vaman Vishnu idol) is worshipped during Onam.
- These idols are installed in homes for worship.
- Onam celebrations include various cultural activities.
- Traditional Kathakali dance, music, art, and cuisine are highlights.
Pulikali Dance: The Tiger Dance
- Unique dancers painted in yellow and black resemble tigers.
- They perform the energetic ‘Pulikali’ dance.
Tourism and Unity
- Onam is declared the Tourism week in Kerala.
- The festival’s vibrant celebrations make it an ideal time to visit the state.
- Onam promotes unity and peace among people of all religions in Kerala.
Onam’s blend of traditions, cultural activities, and festivities truly make it a celebration that embodies unity, diversity, and the rich heritage of Kerala.
A Joyous Journey Through the Days of Onam 2023
Each day of Onam is imbued with its own unique significance, contributing to the grand tapestry of this festive period. The sequence of days – Atham, Chithira, Chodi, Vishakam, Anizham, Thriketta, Moolam, Pooradam, Uthradom, and finally, Thiruvonam – is carefully woven into the cultural fabric of the event. These days hold rituals, traditions, and festivities that resonate with the hearts of the people.
Thiruvonam 2023: The Culmination of Celebration
Thiruvonam, the pinnacle of the Onam festival, is laden with auspiciousness. This concluding day is marked by a sense of closure as it signifies the end of the extended festivities. Families and communities unite to indulge in the grand tradition of Onasadya, a lavish feast that showcases the culinary richness of Kerala. Onasadya is a testimony to the state’s culinary prowess, featuring a delectable array of dishes that are enjoyed with unparalleled enthusiasm.
Delving into the Historical and Cultural Significance
Occurring between the months of August and September according to the Malayali calendar, Onam heralds the commencement of the Malayalam year, known as Kolla Varsham. This harvest festival resonates with the legend of King Mahabali, a generous and benevolent ruler. His return to Kerala is celebrated as a homecoming that bridges the gap between the mortal world and the divine.
The Tale of King Mahabali and Lord Vishnu
In the annals of legend, King Mahabali’s reign over all three worlds incited jealousy among the Gods. Seeking to restore cosmic balance, Lord Vishnu assumed his fifth incarnation as the Brahmin dwarf, Vamana. Visiting Mahabali, Vamana asked for three pieces of land. In a stunning display of divine power, he covered the expanse of the sky and the netherworld with his first two steps. Moved by Mahabali’s selflessness, Vishnu granted him the right to rule his kingdom until the end of Kalyuga, along with the privilege of visiting his subjects during Onam.
The Splendor of Onam 2023 Celebrations
The people of Kerala celebrate Onam with a fervor that resonates throughout the region. These ten days are a symphony of various customs and rituals. Early morning baths, meticulous cleaning of homes, vibrant floral decorations known as Pookalam, and the sumptuous Onam Sadhya comprising numerous dishes are integral to the celebrations. Donned in new attire, families exchange jewelry and traditional garments, reinforcing bonds of love and unity.
Embracing Traditions and Culture of Onam 2023
As Onam unfurls its tapestry of culture, Kerala comes alive with joyous activities. Traditional games like Onakalikal, the thrilling boat race called Vallamkali, the colorful tableau of Pulikali featuring tiger and hunter motifs, and the skillful display of archery weave together a celebration that resonates with history, heritage, and unity.
In every corner of Kerala, Onam is not just a festival; it’s a celebration of unity, love, and culture that reverberates through time, connecting generations and hearts in a harmonious chorus of joy.
Here are some of the important events that take place during Onam 2023
- Atham: This is the first day of Onam and is celebrated by cleaning the house and decorating it with flowers. People also prepare special dishes, such as Onam Sadya.
- Chonday Thiruvathira: This is a day to celebrate the birth of King Mahabali’s daughter, Thiruvathira. On this day, women fast and pray for the well-being of their families.
- Pooram: This is a grand festival that is celebrated in Thrissur, Kerala. It features a procession of caparisoned elephants, fireworks, and traditional dances.
- Vallamkali: This is a boat race that is held in Alappuzha, Kerala. It is a colorful and exciting event that attracts thousands of spectators.
- Thiruvonam: This is the main day of Onam and is celebrated with great pomp and ceremony. People wear new clothes, visit temples, and enjoy a variety of cultural events.
Key takeaways for competitive examinations
- Minister for Culture in Kerala: Saji Cherian