Onam, the Ten Days Harvest Festival of Kerala                                                                          



 On Friday, 25 Aug,   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.
Chalayasi vikramane balimadbhuta-vamana
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 this festival.

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 remarkable
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
Nityavum vannenthenavil
Nrithamadanam Saraswathee

  O Thou seated on the Lotus

And adorning Beauty Transcendental
Be on my lips forever
Dancing on it eternally


Sixth Day, Jyeshta or Thrikketta
Social gatherings 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 !

Dhanu Maasa Pularikal
Dasapushpam choodum
Puthan Thiruvathira !
Tharanamam Rajanikal
Poonin Thiruvathira !

Seventh Day, Moolam

Enthusiasm rises 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, Pooradam
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, Thiruvonam
Great Felicitations, 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 clothes.


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.
Kerala diaspora publicise Kerala's greatest Art !


Heaven on Earth is Kerala, Mannile Vinnanu Keraleeyam.