Kerala is a place in India which is popularly known as  Gods own country.It has a unique geographic features which made many people get visited and it became most sought destinations in Asia.Kerala is having very rich heritage and culture. Onam is the festival that is celebrated in Kerala,it is a state festival in Kerala and also provide holidays on the four days from the start of Onam.Onam is a festival that falls during the month of August to September( Chimgam ) and it marks the commemoration of Vamana avatara of Vishnu and marks the homecoming of mythical King Mahabali.This festival is generally considered as a harvest festival.

The major activities that are involved in Onam festival are worship god, music, dances, sports, boat races and Kerala’s special food items.The main highlights of Onam festival are decorations with flowers, elephant processions, thiruvathirakali , traditional dance performances.The word Thiruvonam is derived from a Sanskrit word Shravanam which is also considered as one of the 27 nakshatras or constellations.

Onam festival in Kerala

Onam festival in Kerala

Origin:

Onam is originated mainly with the coming of famous demon king Mahabali.The legendary king Mahabali ruled in such a way that the people in his dynasty lived with at most surplus and peace.Apart from being a good ruler he is also a great conquer and he conquered everything like land, sea and the heaven.He conquered everything such that even gods were worried at one point of time and went to Lord Vishnu to seek help.In such instant lord Vishnu descended to earth on Kerala in the form of a dwarf brahmin named Vamana and went to get alms( money or food ) from the King Mahabali.The Demon king Mahabali asked Vamana that how can he help him.Then Vamana asked for three pieces of land that will come from three of his footsteps and certainly the alm was granted by the king Mahabali.As soon as the wish was granted the dwarf brahmin Vamana transformed into Lord Narayana and he covered land, seas with one step and heaven with the second step and he asked the demon king Mahabali were to put his third step,then the king offered his head to keep the third step.Then demon king Mahabali was subjugated and sent to under ground but because of the good will for the king in people he is allowed to visit his land once a year and his coming is celebrated as Onam which is a welcoming of Demon god Mahabali.

Lord Narayana taking three steps one on land ,sea and second on heaven and third on king Mahabali

Lord Narayana taking three steps one on land ,sea and second on heaven and third on king Mahabali

Legends:

Many legends say that on the day of Onam it is compulsory for everyone to feed the poor people.It got some story behind a boat named Palliodam while sailing it got stuck in a place and the people who are in the boat faced difficulties to reach into main stream.They got frightened and went to the nearby hut to seek help.As soon as they reached the hut they saw a poor widow and her children were crying out of hunger and poverty.The headman of boat hurried and got food for them.After feeding the poor and needy the boat sailed into the main steam.

Customs of Onam:

 Athachamayam:

Onam starts with the Athachamyam.It is a event which involves the performances by folk artistes, elephants processions , musical events and dance shows are performed by skill and talented artists.

 Snake Boat Race:

             This is the event that is practiced just before the eve of Onam.The highlights of this event are long boats that are neatly decorated, water pageants and performing arts etc.The are many boat races held in Kerala during the eve of Onam,but the one that is held in Allepy is very famous.We can find a traditional boat race Aranmula Uthrittathi conducted at a temple and is more about water festival rather than a competition.

Procession of Decked Elephants:

                       It is a special attraction during the festival of Onam.At this time Elephants are decorated and they go along the streets with their majestic giant and grandeur and the songs, dances are also performed.

Celebrations at Cheruthuruthy:

                            In Trissur district Cheruthuruthy is a place which is famous for the Kathakali Training Centre.In Onam the festival is highlighted by the performances of Kathakali.

 Pulikali/Kaduvakali Performance:

                This pulikali is also called as kaduvakali,the performers paint themselves in the form of tiger and enact various tales during Onam festival.This custom is accompanied by the music of udukku and thakil.

 Kummattikali:

               This is another type of folk dance that is performed at Onam.The people performing this are painted with grass and cover with a huge colorful wooden mask.

Athapoovu Competitions:

                This is a flower carpet that is decorated in front of every house to welcome the king Mahabali.There are competitions for decorating pookalam all over the state during Onam.At the center of every pookalam a bronze lamp is lit and females dance around it in their traditional costume of mundu.

Onakalikal

There are many traditional games played during Onam and they are popularly known as Onakalikal.The games include Talappanthukali, Kutukutu and combats like Kayyankali and Attakalam.