Onam: Homecoming of the Emperor: Article on Must See India : 1336 | Mustseeindia.com
Must See India - Best Travel Guide to India
Home   |   Login   |   Register   |   Contact Us
 ›   ›  Onam: Homecoming of the Emperor

Onam: Homecoming of the Emperor

by Shwetha 6 year, 8 months ago

The revelry and celebration to welcome their King Mahabali is the significance of Onam. The entire state gets together in celebration and revelry which makes for a vibrant display!

Visiting God’s Own Country was on the cards for a long time and there couldn’t be a better time to book Kerala tours than during the famous harvest festival of Onam. While I got myself into the festive mood I discovered that Onam is much more than just the beautiful and intricately done Pookolam(flower decorations), it’s root date back to the time when King Mahabali ruled the kingdom.

Quick Bite

State: Alapuzzha, Kerala

How to reach: The nearest airport is Trivandrum and Cochin, there are plenty of buses plying from Cochin and trains are well connected to Cochin and Trivandrum from other parts of the country.

Stay:  A stay on a houseboat is recommended.

The story goes that the great King Mahabali sacrificed his kingdom to keep up his word to the Brahmin who came to his door step and asked him for as much land he could cover in three steps. But little did Mahabali know that the disguised Brahmin was Lord Vishnu himself. So, with his first two steps he covered the earth and the skies and for the last one stepped on the head Mahabali’s and pushed him to Patal. Such was the love and adoration that Mahabali had for his people that he requested Lord Vishnu to allow him to visit the kingdom once every year, his arrival each year is what marks the festivities of Onam.

The entire state is bathed in the colors and revelry to welcome King Mahabali. The first day of fête is called Atham. I was lucky to be welcomed by a local family to be a part of the celebration which begins with Pookolam. This brings all the pretty sari clad women of the household together. Drapped in a cream and gold sari I too lend my creative touch to the Pookolam taking shape in the front yard, which my host Aarti tells me grows in size with more layers and colors added to it each day during the ten day festivities.

With the excitement in the front yard brimming, the spot light shifts to the ritual of cleaning the home and gearing up for breakfast which is a spread of steamed banana’s and fried pappad. After breakfast its time to lend a hand to Aarti to sling a swing to the branch of high tree in the courtyard and jazzing it up with flowers. She goes on to tell me that this will soon be the centre of all the excitement as we pretty women will sing and swing along and soak in the festivities! After a day of rituals, legendry tales and fun, I can’t wait for the days ahead to unfold.

As expected, Aarti and her family have been more than hospitable and I am thoroughly enjoying myself through the rituals and festivities of each day. With “Utradam- the ninth day of Onam” having arrived, Aarti’s grandfather the eldest member of the family, distributes presents which in the earlier days was farm produce and today has sure modernized!  Gearing up for the final day preprations are under away and everyone pitch in and do their bit.

The final day called “Thiru Onam” is welcomed as the city plunges into the colors, sights and sounds of the Onam.  We wake up at the crack of dawn as early as 4 am, the sense of excitement, happiness and hustle bustle can be felt in every corner of the household, as everyone young and old get dressed in their best attire, women in their traditional golden border Mundu Neriyathum and men in their Mundu. Once dressed the family get together for the elaborate prayer ceremony which concludes in the grand feast of “Onasadya”. The feast begins after Aarti’s grandfather lights the ceremonial brass lamp and makes an offering to Lord Ganapathy. The feast gets underway and I have in front of me sides and main dishes of 13 different colors and flavors to choose from!

As we end the meal with sweet dishes, the exhilaration builds in the air and its time for some games collectively known as “Onakalikal”. While the young men with strength and vitality go for a game of combat, archery and Kutukutu(Kerala style Kabaddi) , the elderly go for the more sober board games. The women enjoy “Kaikotti” which is a clap dance and later swing and sing along on the high slung swing!

The cultural extravaganza and riot of colors stretch across the state, people from all corners gather to be a part of the merriment; the most important of which are the Vallamkali- Snake Boat Race, Kummatti Kali and Pulukali along with the dazzle of the fire works that take over the night sky!

Awestruck by the precision and skill of the men and women at the boat race and sparkle of colors in the night sky, I look around at the excitement, joy and faith in the eyes of the people that the visit of their king will bring their land prosperity.

With the dimming lights of the lamps and fire works in the night sky, Aarti’s family concludes the festivities of Onam and call it a night! The morning after the ten day cultural extravaganza, I thank Aarti and her folks who embraced me as a part of their family, with a promise to come back for more and bid goodbye to God’s Own Country.

Places in this article

 Click to view map

You can drag the map with your mouse, and double-click to zoom.


Places in this article

Recent articles

View all
No comments so far. Be the first to comment!

People who viewed this page also viewed

Almora honeymoon packages from Pune
Almora packages from Kolkata
Chandigarh honeymoon packages from Pune
Dadra packages from Pune
Jaisalmer honeymoon packages from Bangalore
Madhya Pradesh tours
Munnar Tour Packages
Pahalgam packages from Delhi
Pahalgam tour packages from Chennai
Rameswaram tour packages from Chennai
manali honeymoon package from chennai
mount abu holiday packages