Cheerful people of Kerala observe Onam with joviality and zeal. The auspicious festival is celebrated for ten days, beginning on the first day Atham, running through nine days of non-stop celebrations, and culminating on the tenth and biggest day of celebrations – known as Thiru Onam.
The huge scale of the celebrations draws tourists from not only the country, but also from round the world! The popularity of Onam is actively backed by the government who promote the festival, making it larger with each year. One of the known strategies is the Kerala Tourism week, which is entirely organized by the state government to attract tourists to the state during the Onam celebrations.
Celebrations of the initial day are marked by elaborate flower patterned carpets known as Pookalam. Over the days of the celebrations, more flowers are further added to the Pookalam. It is ensured that the flowers are of as many colors as possible. Women and girls of Kerala take great joy and pride in crafting them in the facades or courtyards of their homes and flats.
Boys and men participate by helping the females by gather flowers of as many varieties as possible. On the day of Atham, people offer elaborate prayers at local temple by the thousands. Frenzied activities for the festival commence from this day onwards.
Culmination of the festival
The largest day in the festival of Onam is Thiruvonam. Carousing begins at four in the morning! People, on this day of the celebrations, tidy up their homes, take a bath in the early hours, get dressed in new clothes and offer elaborate prayers in search for godly blessings. A colossal and most wonderful Pookalam is organized on this day to greet the spirit of King Maveli.
The best part of the celebration in the day is the massive lunch known as Onasadya. People of Kerala take pride and are truly passionate about this part of their festival. Even if a household cannot pay for lavish celebrations, they will, in anyway, prepare a meal consisting of all the 11-13 approved dishes. This act has given rise to the popular Malayalam axiom, “Kanam Vittu Onam Unnanam” which when translated means, “one must have the Thiruonam lunch even if they have to sell all their belongings and properties”.
Such is the craze of this festival, it is a state holiday, when all offices and businesses remain closed, and the festive mood can literally be smelt in the air. The passions with which the festivities are executed are simply breath taking, and this is one of the primary reasons that Kerala turns into a tourist hotspot during this time of the year.