as a very important festival in South India. This festival often falls
around the month of September. The celebrations begin within a
fortnight of the Malayalam New Year and go on for ten days.
day called the Thiruonam is the most important. All over the state,
rituals along with new clothes, traditional cuisine, dance, and music
mark this harvest festival.
Legend has that
Onam is celebrated after the memory of King Mahabali. It was said that
the King ruled Kerala long time ago and that he was a good King who
looked after his people well. Thus Onam symbolizes the joyful rule of
the King and the happiness that the people had under his rule. The
people also have the belief that during Onam, the King returns to
Kerala to visit his people.
The people in
Kerala who celebrate Onam prepare for the festival by cleaning their
houses and decorating them. On Onam, everybody in the family would be
wearing new clothes. Delicious sweetmeats and favorite vegetarian
dishes would be cooked and served on banana leaves. One important item
that would be visible outside each house is the ‘pookalam’ a
flower mat. This flower mat is like a symbol of welcoming the King
Mahabali. During Onam, traditional rituals are performed and the
people celebrate the occasion with a grand feast. One favorite dessert
that would be served on the day is ‘payasam’ a sweet &
celebrations of Onam, if you’re a tourist in Kerala, you can never
miss the colorful parade of elephants & fireworks. For
entertainment, the popular Indian dance, ‘Kathakali’ dance would
be performed and other spectacular events like carnivals and sports
events would be some of the highlights for the festival as well. At
night there would also be songs and dances to delight all. In fact, it
has been noted that a high number of tourists would always visit
kerala around this period just to catch all the action and joyous
celebrations of Onam.
attractive feature to watch out for during the festival Onam is the
famous ‘Vallamkali’ or otherwise known as the great boat race. For
this boat race hundreds of men row the boats to the beat of drums and
cymbals. An interesting thing to note is that above each boat there is
a scarlet silk umbrella and gold coins are hung from the umbrellas.
There are various boats, which also include the ‘Chundans’: the
snake-like long boats that are shaped like snakes. This event is a
very popular with many as various types of boats compete with each
other to win the race. Many usually crowd around to catch the boat
race and some cheer for their favorites to win.
thing about Onam is that it is celebrated by all, not only Hindus but
also by Christians and Muslims who are living in Kerala. It is one
festival that unites all people regardless of race and religion.
Onam is the
biggest and the most important festival of Kerala. Festivities of
Onam continue for ten long days. Of all these days, most important
ones are the first day, Atham and the last or tenth day, Thiru Onam.
2 cups of cubed
and boiled vegetables (beans,carrots,potatoes,drumsticks,raw
Religious and traditional people of Kerala sincerely follow all the
customs and traditions set by their ancestors. A number of cultural
programmes, dances, songs and feasts mark the festival.
for the Atham Day
commence from the first day, Atham. The day is regarded holy and
auspicious by the people of Kerala. People take early bath on the
day and offer prayers in the local temple.
Notable feature of this day is that making of Pookkallam or the
flower carpet starts from this day. Attha Poo is prepared in the
front courtyard by girls of the house to welcome the spirit of King
Mahabali in whose honour Onam is celebrated. Boys play a supporting
role and help in gathering flowers. In the following days, more
flowers are added to Pookalam. As a result Pookalam turns out to be
of massive size on the final day.
Preparations for the Thiru Onam starts in a big way and everybody
gets engaged to mark the festival in their own style. House cleaning
starts on a massive scale and everything is made to look neat and
tidy. There is also a set breakfast consisting of steamed bananas
and fried pappadam (pappad). This remains the same till the day of
Thiru Onam. A swing is also slung on a high branch of a tree. It is
decorated with flowers and the youngsters take great delight in
swinging and singing, that goes simultaneously.
for the ninth day-Utradam
prior to Onam is the ninth day of the festivities and is known as
Utradam. On this day tenants and depends of Tarawads (traditional
large joint family sharing a common kitchen and consisting of more
than hundred people) give presents to Karanavar, the eldest member
of the family. These presents are usually the produce of their farms
consisting of vegetables, coconut oil, plantains etc. This gift from
the villagers to Karanavar on Onam are called 'Onakazhcha'. A
sumptuous treat is offered is offered by Karanavar in return for
Onakazhcha. Village artisans also offer a specimen of their
handicrafts to the Karanavar of Nayar Tarawads. They receive
gracious rewards for this courtesy.
Big Day - Thiru Onam
appears in its grandiose best on this day. Cultural extravaganza,
music and feasts add colours of merriment and joy to the God's Own
Country. There are celebrations all around the state and everybody
takes active participation in them; Onam has assumed a secular
character and is celebrated by people of all religions and
wake up as early as 4 am on the day of Onam. Day begins with
cleaning of the house. In the earlier days, front courtyards were
smeared with cow dungs. The custom is still followed in villages,
where the houses are not cemented.
On the day of Thiruvonam conical figures in various forms are
prepared from sticky clay and are painted red. These are decorated
with a paste made of rice-flour and water and are placed in the
front court yard and other important places in the house. Some of
these clay figures are in the shape of cone and others represent
figures of Gods. Those in the shape of a cone are called, 'Trikkakara
Appan'. The tradition of making clay cones for Trikkara Appan has
its roots in mythology, which says that festival originated at
Trikkakara, a place 10 km from Cochin. Trikkara is also said to be
the capital in the reign of legendary King Maveli.
Elaborate prayers ceremonies and poojas are also performed on this
day. A senior member of the house plays the role of the priest and
conducts the rituals. He wakes up early and prepares ata; Ata is
prepared from rice flour and molasses for Nivedyam (offerings to
God). Lamps are lit up in front of the idols and all members of the
house join in for the ceremonies. Priest offers ata, flowers and
water in the names of the God. As Onam is also a harvest festival
people thank God for the bountiful harvest and pray for the
blessings in the coming year. A peculiar custom is followed after
this, wherein male members make loud and rhythmic shouts of joys.
The tradition is called, 'Aarppu Vilikkukal'. This represents the
beginning of Onam.
It is now the time for members of the house to dress up in their
best attire and offer prayers in the local temple. Most people wear
new clothes on the day. There is also a tradition of distributing
new clothes on Onam. In Tharawads (traditional large family
consisting of more than hundred people), Karanavar, the eldest
member of the family, gives new clothes as gifts, called Onapudava,
to all family members and servants. Other members of the family
exchange gifts amongst each other.
Big Feast - Onasadya
completing the morning rituals, it is time for the family to get
ready for the grand meal called Onasadya. The biggest and most
prominent place in the house is selected to lay the meal which is
traditionally served in a row on a mat laid on the floor.
The central place in the row is occupied by the eldest member of the
family. In front of him is placed a lighted brass lamp at a
distance. Towards the west of the lamp is placed a small plantain
leaf on which the food is served. This is an offering made in the
name of Lord Ganapati.
Thereafter, the meal is served to all present. The elaborate meal
consists of 11 to 13 strictly vegetarian dishes and is served on
banana leaves. There is a fixed order of serving the meal and a set
place to serve the various dishes on the leaf. A lot of preparation
and hard work goes in making of the scrumptious Onasadya.
for Fun - Dances and Games
the grand meal, it's time for people to indulge in recreational
activities and enjoy the festival. Men of strength and vigour go in
for rigorous sports while senior and sober members pass time by
playing indoor games like chess and cards. There is a set of
traditional games to be played on Onam which are collectively
called, Onakalikal. It includes ball games, combats, archery and
Kutukutu (Kerala version of Kabaddi).
Women go in for dancing activities as there are specific dances like
Kaikottikali and Thumbi Thullal for the festival of Onam. Women
performing the graceful clap dance called Kaikotti kali in their
traditional gold bordered mundu and neriyathu presents a splendid
sight. Besides, there is also a tradition of playing on a decorated
swing hung from a high branch. Onappaattu - Onam Songs, are also
sung on the occasion.
Celebrations and cultural programs are held all across the state to
mark the festival of Onam in which a large number of people
participate. Prominent amongst them are Vallamkali- the Snake Boat
Race and entertaining events like Kummatti kali and Pulikali. The
other highpoint of Onam is the dazzling display of fire works. The
state of Kerala can be seen engulfed in light and spirit of
merriment when people burst patassu or fire crackers.
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tablespoons of coconut
4-5 green chillies
3/4 packet buttermilk
A pinch of turmeric
Salt to taste
3 tsp cooking oil for seasoning
1 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves, chopped finely
boiled vegetables to a smooth paste. Add
the salt, turmeric and the coconut paste to the buttermilk. Add
the boiled vegetables. Heat on a low flame till the buttermilk mixture
reaches a thick texture. Keep stirring continuously. Now add the
chopped coriander leaves. Season with mustard, curry leaves, hing ,
cumin and red chilies in hot oil. Heat hot with plain rice.
KELE KA HALWA
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1 tablespoon Pure Ghee
3 medium bananas ripe, peeled and mashed
1 cup Sugar
Heat ghee in a
heavy pan. Add bananas and cook over low heat, stirring to prevent the
mixture from sticking. Cook for 10 minutes, or until bananas have
browned and resemble soft toffee. Add more ghee as necessary. Add
sugar and continue stirring until dissolved. Add nutmeg and cardamom;
remove from heat. Spread halwa into a deep, large plate. Allow it to
cool and cut into squares.
2 cups Whole Green
1 Tsp Cumin seeds
2-4 Thai green pepper
1 onion chopped finely
Soak Moong Dhal
for 3-4 hrs . Grind
the soaked moong Dhal with cumin seeds, ginger, salt and green peppers
for 10-12mts. Make dosas like pancake sprinkling few chopped onions on
top with little oil. Serve hot with coconut chutney.
200 gms Rice
Wash and soak
raw rice for an hour. Drain the water completely and spread the rice
on a cloth and allow it to dry. The rice can be allowed to dry in the
shade itself. Grind the raw rice to a smooth flour. For 1 measure of
rice flour take 2 measures of water. Boil this water in a kadai (a
shallow thick bottom vessel). Add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of sesame
the water to boil. When the water starts boiling add the rice flour to
this, stirring continuously without allowing any lumps to form. When
the mixture has formed into a smooth thick batter, remove from the
fire. The batter must be thick enough like chapatti batter. Grate
fresh coconut. Add a teaspoon of milk to the grated coconut and grind
it in a mixer grinder lightly. Add a little water to the powdered
jaggery and keep on low fire and stir for some time. When the jaggery
has dissolved completely in water add grated coconut to this and keep
stirring for some time. Then remove from fire and add powdered
cardamoms to this. Smear your hands with a little sesame oil. Smoothen
the prepared rice flour batter with your hands. Make small balls (the
size of a lemon). Fill these cups with the prepared coconut-jaggery
filling. Put these filled up cups on an idli-plate and pressure cook