The festival of Onam is one of the most important cultural and religious festivals of Kerala, which brings people together as a community. It is celebrated in the month of Chingam, for ten days.
Day 1: Atham:
This is the first day, and people start visiting the temples very early in the morning. Keralites believe that King Mahabali also gets ready to descend from Pathala to Kerala on this day. “Athachamayam”, or the initiation of the celebration, is marked by the grand procession at Tripunithura near Kochi. This is the place where Mahabali is believed to have been exiled to Pathala. People decorate the place with Pookalam (floral carpet). It is important to note that the size of the pookalam is small on day 1, and increases as the days pass.
Day 2: Chithira
Intense cleaning of the house takes place, followed by a nice second layer of flowers to the pookalam.
Day 3: Chothi
The Pookalam gains one more layer, and the family goes on a shopping spree to get new dresses (Ona Kodi) and gifts for their kith and kin.
Day 4: Vishakam
Feast or Onam Sadya is cooked, with each member of the house actively participating in the process. The market is also open for people to purchase various things.
Day 5: Anizham
On this day, the Boat Race or the Vallamkali begins. Many sportsmen take part in the boat race, which carries hefty prizes and rewards.
Day 6 – Thrikketa
On this day, people visit the families of their relatives and in laws and exchange gifts. Elders will bless their family members and give them gifts.
Day 7 – Moolam
Many temples have special prayers on this day and arrange Ona Sadyas in their premises. Puli Kali or a dance, in which people dress as a tiger or leopard, would be performed during this day. This day marks the homecoming of the King Mahabali.
Day 8: Pooradam
People place the statue of King Mahabali and Vamana in their houses. They invite King Mahabali to their houses. The statue will also be called as Onathappan, from this day.
Day 9: Uthradam
This is the most auspicious day of the Onam celebrations, as this marks the eve of Onam. It is believed that the king visits the houses of his subjects and blesses them to have a prosperous life.
Day 10: Thiruvonam
This marks the final day of the celebration. The entire house is filled with decorations. Pookalam is made filling the entire house. The Pookalam is also now bigger in size, gaining a layer each day. A sumptuous feast of Onam Sadya is prepared. People gather in groups to have their traditional dances, music and special celebrations. Many people burst crackers on this day. People wear new clothes and enjoy this day with a lot of happiness.
Thus the entire ten days are marked with a lot of celebration and happiness. On the whole, Onam festival brings integration and solidarity among the people.