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When is Onam Festival Celebrated?
Onam Festival 2022 Date
Tuesday, 30th August, 2022 – Friday, 9th September, 2022
Onam Festival is celebrated on the day of Thiruvonam ( 22nd Nakshatra or Shravana Nakshatra) of Chingam month of the Malayali Calendar, which falls under the August – September month of the Georgian Calendar.
It is a ten-day festival that begins on the day, Atham and ends on the tenth day, Thiruvonam or Thiru Onam which is the most auspicious day and is the beginning of the Malayali year ‘KollaVarsham’.
What is Onam Festival?
Onam Festival is a religious festival popularly known as the ‘Harvest Festival’, which is celebrated widely across southern states of India, especially in Kerala. This is a ten-day festival celebrated with great joy to spread happiness among people.
Onam festival is celebrated to memorialise the demon King Mahabali, who is one of the Chiranjivi (group of seven immortals) who is well known for his kind heart and generosity. People believe that their Demon King Mahabali visits his subject on the day of Onam.
Why is Onam Festival Celebrated?
Onam is one of the harvest festivals that are celebrated in India. Owing to the end of monsoons and welcoming the Harvest Season, these grand celebrations are made.
According to ancient stories, the Onam festival is celebrated to welcome the demon King Mahabali, a king known for his generosity and honesty, which is believed to visit his Kingdom situated in India from Patala Lok (underneath the Earth) on the day of Onam Festival to spread joy and happiness among people.
History of Onam Festival
According to Hindu mythology, the great Asuras King Mahabali, son of Veerochana, defeated all the Devas and conquered a small area in India today known as Kerala. It is believed that once he ruled the state of Kerala.
King Mahabali was a kind and generous King. He respected everyone who arrived in front of him. He also protected his people from all harm and secured them in his mighty hand. The King also served food for his people. During his period, honesty, kindness, pronounced health and wealth flourished.
People from other places used to visit him, and King Mahabali served them well. If they had any problems, he solved them with genuine reason. People started giving respect and pay honour to King Mahabali. This created jealously among Devas, and they decided to get rid of this dilemma.
Being a devotee of Lord Vishnu, King Mahabali worshipped him and followed his deeds. Aditi, the mother of Devas King Indra, decided to curb the growing fame of Mahabali, approached Lord Vishnu and convinced him to take the test of King Mahabali generosity.
King Mahabali was well known for his kind gesture and generosity. To test this, Lord Vishnu took his fifth avatar, ‘Vamana, a poor dwarf Brahmin’ and approached King Mahabali.
King Mahabali was performing ‘Ashvamedha Yagya‘ to celebrate his victories and donating gifts to everyone. By seeing a Vamana, King Mahabali decided to award him with whatever he needs. Vamana, in turn, asked for a piece of land that his three steps could cover.
Though shocked by Vamana response, King Mahabali granted his request. Shukracharya, the advisor of the King, notified him against fulfilling Vamana’s request as he sensed he was no ordinary person. But the generous King replied that it was sinful not to fulfil his request.
As soon as the King accepted his request, Vamana avatar grew in size for each step. On his first step, he covered the entire Earth and on the next step, he covered the skies and cosmic proportions. Knowing that his next step would destroy the whole Universe, King Mahabali requested to place his 3rd step on his head.
When Vamana placed his foot, he pushed the King to ‘Patala Lok’, the Underneath world. In Patala Lok, Lord Vishnu revealed his true identity and informed that he came to test him on his generosity, and he passed that test and awarded him a boon.
King Mahabali loved his kingdom and people too much, so he requested Lord Vishnu to allow him to visit his kingdom once a year. Lord Vishnu, pleased by the King’s nobility, fulfilled his request.
Thus the yearly visit of King Mahabali is celebrated as the Onam Festival in and around Kerala. To tribute the sacrifice of King and to welcome him, various preparations are made by people. It is believed that the King Mahabali will make his appearance on the day of Onam Festival to look at his kingdom and people.
How is Onam Festival Celebrated?
Though Hindus celebrate Onam Festival with wide significance, this festival is also marked by all religions in Kerala. People make various preparations. Married women wear White and golden sarees called Kasavu Saree, make full-fleshed meals and celebrate them splendidly.
Other than this, various other preparations are also made, including wearing new clothes, decorating lamps, handloom fairs, singing Onam songs, Kummattikali, Onathallu or martial arts, Onavillu/music, Onapottan and worship of God or Onathappan.
During these ten days of the Onam Festival, different people organised various events, out of which six are famous and widely celebrated.
This marks the first day of Onam, which is filled with a colourful street parade. Decorated elephants, colourful carnivals, dance, music and art, fill the day with joy.
As a ritual, women make colourful Rangoli with flowers in front of the house and temples.
The famous Tiger Dance of the state is performed as a part of this festival. This is performed to reflect manliness where people paint themselves to look like a Tiger and perform traditional dance.
As a part of this festival, a nine-course meal containing around 13 traditional dishes from Rasam, Avial and famous dessert ParuppuPayasam served on banana leaves.
This is a famous tradition of Kerala, where boat races are conducted on the river Pampa. This is carried out on their famous snake-shaped boats.
Women perform various forms of dance during this season. The famous clap dance known as Kaikottikali, from the period of King Mahabali and other dances ThumbiThualli, is performed by women.
All these celebrations represent the joyful culture of India.