Atham ( Moon's tenancy of the constellation of Delta Corvi or Hasta ),
began, initiating the start of the Ten Day Harvest Festival, It is a Festival of Agri Prosperity.
Onam is symbolic of the
humiliation of the Ego, the dominant force in Man. The Ego is the lower
imperfect term in us. Self is the higher, perfect term. Ego represents our
animal aspect. Self represents our divine aspect.
Keshava dhruta-vamana-rupa jaya jagadisa hare
To chastise proud Bali
Thou became a Dwarf
Deceived he was by Thee !
Thou banished him from Earth
As a punishment to his Ego !
Hail O Noble Lord
And accept our salutations !
All children create
Pookalams, flower decorations in front of the house,
with native flowers.
First Day, Atham
When the Moon tenants the constellation of Delta Corvi or Hasta, Onam, the
ten day Harvest Festival begins. Hence Atham assumes sacred significance.
People go to local Temple and offer prayers, thus beginnings the rituals of
Atham. Pappads are fried and steamed bananas, considered highly nutritious, are
taken in for breakfast. This is the breakfast adopted for all the ten days of
Flower decorations called Pookalams are also made by women. Thus Maha Bali,
the ruler of Kerala, is ushered in. He visits Kerala during Onam times ! New
and new designs are added to this Pookalams Different flowers are used on
different days Girls compete to make the best Pookalams !
Atha Chamayam, a glorious procession is carried on the Atham day to mark
the beginning of this harvest festival. It was the royal cusom of the King
of Kochi to travel with his entourage to Thripunithura. This event is made
by elephant processions, dance, music and folk art presentations.
Second Day, Chithira
The Second Day is Chithira is characterised by no marked rituals. Prayers are
offered to invoke blessings divine. Girls add
new flowers to Pookalams or floral
decorations. They have to think of innovative
designs to improve the Pookalams. Arranging
flowers for the boys is the duty of the boys.
All want to invite the spirit of Lord Maveli
by creating magnificent Pookalams !
Third Day, Chothi
The Moon tenants Swati or Alpha Bootis and this
day is called Chothi in Sanskrit.
Great shopping is done. All buy new clothes and
distribute to children. Gifts are
given to all in the house. Also to close
relatives and servants. The Media hypes
the ten day festival. Shopkeepers come with
concessional schemes to lure customers.
Specific flowers are added to Pookalams. Every
Deity has flowers and flowers for
particular deities are added to these Pookalams
Fourth Day, Visakham
Market becomes vibrant with activities. Prices
of fruits and vegetables go up and this is
a great time for the shop owners ! Despite the
price hike, people still buy banana chips,
banana chips in molasses, pappad et al.
Normally women prepared these banana chips
and pappads. Also Payasams or puddings.
Fifth Day, Anizham
Vallam Kali or Snake
Boat Race happens on the Fifth day of Onam. Moon tenants Delta Scorpi. This
immemsely popular event happens on the banks of the irver Pamba at Aranmula.
Global tourists witness this great event.
Chundan Vallams or
snake like boats participate in this festival. Oared by
hundreds of oarsmen, these vallams vie for supremacy !
Women add more
flowers to the Pookalams and gear up for Thiru Onam.
Padma peedhathil irikkum Nee
Pattada bhangi charthum Devee
Thou seated on the
And adorning Beauty
Be on my lips forever
Dancing on it eternally
Sixth Day, Jyeshta
and programs cultural take place during this day. People
belonging to all cultures participate in these cultural events. The Central
Govt has declared Onam as the National Festival of Kerala. Pookalams get
better designs and fresh flowers !
Different Athira Song and Dance.
The dawns of Dhanu month
Are festooned with the Ten Flowers
During the divine Athira
Thiruvathira, new Thiruvathira !
The glorious nights
Take the auspicious Thala
During this celestial Night
Of golden, divine Athira !
high, as there are only two days left for the Tenth Day,
Onam. Shops will be full of goods, enticing the populace with freebies. People
do their last bit of shopping. Joy and euphoria pervade everywhere. They
are going to meet their Onathappan. Celebrations and exhilaration that the
long wait is about to end.
More and more
beautiful flowers grace this day. There is mirth all around,
anticipating the arrival of Lord Maveli.
The Eighth Day,
People create clay
idols called a Ma. It is called Poora Uttigal and each Ma
will be decorated with flowers. The size of the Pookalam gets bigger and
bigger. People go on a shopping spree. as Onam fever grips the province.
Houses are cleaned to see that they are tidy when Maveli arrives !
Ninth Day, Uthradam
The penultimate day
of the Onam Harvest Festival is marked by great jubilation, as people
are ready to welcome ths Spirit of Maveli. In some parts of Kerala, Onam
starts on the this day before Thiruvonam. Some people call this Uthradam as
the First Onam and the next day as the Second Onam.
The Chief of a
family is called Karanavar and dependents of a Nair Tharavad bring their
horticultural produce to this Chief. The Chief treats them to a super meal.
The horti produce which they bring is called Ona Kazhcha. Handicrafts are also
brought by village artitsts and the Chief rewards them in plenty !
New designs grace
the Pookalams and houses are cleaned up for the great event next day.
The Tenth Day,
Thiru Onam Asamsakal greet all during this glorious day, a day of
plentitude. All are wished Onam Felicitations ! During this day, the spirit of
King Maha Bali grace Kerala, so runs the legend. Early morning houses are
cleaned up to accomodate the spirit of the benevolent King. All wear new
A sumptous meal
consisiting of 11 dishes are prepared for the Ona Sadya, the Great Feast of
Onam. Clothes are gifted to family members.Many a cultural event grace
the Province. The major celebratoins get over on the Tenth day, even though
many celebrate the next two days, Avittom and Chathayam.
diaspora publicise Kerala's greatest Art !
on Earth is Kerala, Mannile Vinnanu Keraleeyam.