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Onam, Harvest Festival of Kerala

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Onam is the most revered and celebrated festival of Kerala, is celebrated every year by the Malayali community across the world. The 10-day long festival marks the beginning of harvest season as well as the appearance of the Vaman avatar of Lord Vishnu along with the homecoming of King Mahabali.

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The festival begins from Atham (Hasta) nakshatram, and ends on Thiruvonam (Shravana) nakshatram. This year, the harvest festival began on August 12 and will conclude on August 23. The 10 days of the festival are named on the names of astrological stars as per the Malayalam calendar.

Here are the 10 days of Onam and its significance:

  • The celebration of Onam begins with Atham. People in Kerala decorates their home with yellow flowers known as Pokkalam.
  • The 2nd day of the festival is known as Chithira. On this day, people clean their entire houses and add another layer of flowers to the Pokkalam.
  • The 3rd day of Onam is observed by meeting family members and exchanging gifts, known as Onakodi and jewellery.
  • The 4th day is considered the most auspicious one that marks the preparation of Onam Sadhya.
  • On the 5th day, the annual boat race known as the Vallamkali boat race is conducted from the town Aranmula on the banks of the Pamba river in Pathanamthitta. People of the Malayali community participate in this.
  • Thriketta is the 6th day of this harvest festival. From this day, the schools remain closed and kids start preparing for the devotional prayers.
  • With just two days left for the festival, the 7th day marks the beginning of the preparation for Onam Sandhya in which several dance performances are held.
  • The 8th day holds significance in festivities as the idols of Vamana and King Mahabali are prepared by using clay and placed in the centre of the Pokkalam.
  • On the 9th day of Uthradom, the festivities begin on a large scale. People start preparation for traditional meals by using fruits and vegetables.
  • The 10th day of the festival is the most important day of the carnival of Onam. It is believed that on Thiruvonam, the spirit of legendary King Mahabali visits the state of Kerala and hence, the festivities begin from early morning. The grand feast of Onam called Onam sadhya is also prepared on this day.

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