Onam is the biggest and the most important festival of the state of Kerala, and is its national festival since 1961. It is a harvest festival and is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm all over the state by people of all communities. According to a popular legend, the festival is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam.
Onam is celebrated in the beginning of the month of Chingam, the first month of the Malayalam Calendar (Kollavarsham). This corresponds with the month of August-September according to the Gregorian Calendar. The carnival of Onam lasts from four to ten days. First day, Atham and tenth day, Thiruonam are most important of all.
The Legend[change | change source]
The story is told that during the reign of Mahabali, the mighty Asura (demon king), Kerala witnessed its golden era. Everybody in the state was happy and prosperous and king was highly regarded by his subjects.God's was jealous about the good deed done by him. Gods bring an end to his reign as they felt challenged by Mahabali's growing popularity. However, for all the good deed done by Mahabali, God granted him a boon that he could annually visit his people with whom he was so attached. It is this annual visit of Mahabali that is celebrated as Onam.
Celebration[change | change source]
Elaborate feasts, folk songs, elegant dances, energetic games, elephants, boats and flowers all are a part of this dynamic festival. The Kerala population make all efforts to celebrate the festival in a grand way and impress upon their beloved King that they are happy and wish him well. People buy new clothes and sweets during the celebration of Onam. Popularity and presentation of rich culture of the state during the carnival made Onam the National Festival of Kerala in 1961.
Tourism[change | change source]
The government of India has taken due notice of this vibrant and colorful festival. It promotes Onam internationally in a big way and celebrates 'Tourist Week' for Kerala during Onam celebrations. Thousands of domestic and foreign tourists visit Kerala to be a part of Onam.