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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Onam: Celebrating Kerala’s Harvest Festival in Splendour

As we immerse ourselves in the beauty of Onam, let's explore the essence, traditions, and significance of this vibrant festival

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

INDIA: As the warm sun casts a golden glow over the lush landscapes of Kerala, India, a sense of excitement and joy fills the air. The fragrance of freshly bloomed flowers mingles with the aroma of delicious feasts, and the sound of laughter and traditional music echoes through the villages. 

Today, as the calendar marks a special day, it’s time to revel in the celebration of Onam – a festival that exemplifies the rich cultural tapestry and unity of this region. As we immerse ourselves in the beauty of Onam, let’s explore the essence, traditions, and significance of this vibrant festival.

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A historical and cultural extravaganza

Onam is deeply rooted in Kerala’s rich history and culture, tracing its origins back to ancient times. Legend has it that Onam commemorates the homecoming of the beloved King Mahabali, a legendary ruler who is believed to have visited his subjects during this time. The ten-day celebration is a splendid tapestry of rituals, feasting, dance, and communal bonding.

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Floral carpets (pookalams) adorning doorsteps

One of the most enchanting aspects of Onam is the creation of intricate and mesmerizing floral carpets known as “Pookalams.” These vibrant designs, made from a diverse array of flowers, herbs, and leaves, adorn the doorsteps of homes and public spaces. Each day of the festival sees the addition of a new layer to these carpets, culminating in a breathtaking work of art that pays homage to nature’s beauty.

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Sadhya: The grand feast

At the heart of Onam lies the sumptuous Sadhya, a grand vegetarian feast that showcases the culinary prowess of Kerala. Served on banana leaves, the Sadhya features an array of dishes, each distinct in flavour and preparation. The meal is a delightful symphony of tastes, textures, and aromas that range from spicy to sweet, providing a true gastronomic experience.

Traditional attire and folk dances

Onam is a time for the people of Kerala to don traditional attire, adding a burst of colour and elegance to the festivities. Men don the classic white “Mundu” with a vibrant “Kasavu” border, while women adorn themselves in the resplendent “Kasavu” sarees. The celebration is incomplete without the iconic “Thiruvathira Kali” and “Kaikottikali” dances, where men and women form circles and sway gracefully to traditional songs.

Vallamkali: The snake boat race

Another striking facet of Onam is the exhilarating Vallamkali, the snake boat race. This centuries-old tradition sees elegantly crafted snake boats adorned with colourful umbrellas and rowers clad in traditional attire slicing through the backwaters with rhythmic oarsmanship. The race is not just a competition but a celebration of community, teamwork, and the zest for life that defines Kerala.

Onathappan: Creating the Floral Deity:

The Onathappan, a pyramid-shaped deity made of clay, is another integral element of Onam celebrations. Families design and set up this deity in their homes, often surrounded by fresh flowers and leaves. This act is not just a ritual but a symbolic gesture of welcoming King Mahabali into their homes and hearts.

Unity in diversity

What makes Onam truly special is its ability to transcend religious and cultural boundaries, uniting people from all walks of life. It is celebrated with equal zeal by Hindus, Christians, and Muslims, showcasing the inclusive spirit of Kerala.

As the sun sets on this day of festivity and joy, the spirit of Onam lingers in the hearts of Keralites and admirers worldwide. It is more than a festival; it is a celebration of the indomitable spirit, rich heritage, and shared values of a community.

On this beautiful Onam day, let us bask in the splendour of tradition, relish the unity that flows through every heart, and cherish the joyous moments that make this festival a true celebration of life and culture. Happy Onam!

Also Read: La Tomatina Festival: Unveiling the Juicy Delights of Spain’s Tomato Battle


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