Why Onam is celebrated???
Onam is the festival celebrated in India (mainly in Kerala) for Welcoming the legend King Mahabali and for the welcome of harvest season. It is said that Mahabali was from the devil community but he possesses great virtues. He becomes famous for making donations to the poor and needy people. The people in his kingdom lived a happy and prosperous life. No person used to go empty hands from his door. One day lord Vishnu came to Mahabali by changing his appearance as a beggar, when Mahabali asked him that he can ask for anything he want, then Lord Vishnu said please give me land measuring three footsteps. On hearing this Mahabali laughed at him and promised him to give land measuring his three footsteps. When Vishnu ji took his first step, it covered half of the earth and in second step he covered the whole earth Mahabali was very confused that how he could make his given promise fulfilled and then for third step Mahabali puts his head under the feet of lord. Lord Vishnu buried him under the ground with his feet. From that time it is believed that he comes on the Onam festival from the ground to see his kingdom and brings prosperity for the people. This festival is also related with the harvest season.
When Onam is celebrated?
Onam falls in between the August-September and according to the Kolavarsham, the Kerala calendar, it falls in the month of Chingam. This year it is coming on the 14 September 2016.
What types of preparation are made for the Onam?
Onam is celebrated for the ten days which includes many activities, here we are mentioning from the first to tenth day:
-On the very first day different Rangoli designs are made by using yellow flowers known as the Phookalam at the entrance of house for the Welcome of Mahabali.
-Second day includes the cleanliness of home and second layer of flowers is also added to the Phookalam.
-Third day another layer is added to the Phookalam and it is the day from which the shopping for celebrations also begin.
-Many sports and traditional competitions are arranged, people participate in them with great spirits.
-Fifth day is especially for the Vallamkali which means dragon boat race. Very big boats which are rowed by many people are the centre of attractions.
-Sixth day on wards the schools and offices are closed for the celebrations and people are totally involved in the festival.
-From the seventh day the whole state is decorated and traditional folk dances can be seen everywhere.
-On the eight day the Idols of Vamana and Mahabali are placed at the centre of Phookalam after their bath.
-On the ninth day special meals are prepared at home. These delicacies are prepared in the traditional ways and are severed on the Banana leaf. Minimum 11 dishes are prepared in the Kitchen.
-On the last day people first take bath and wear new cloths and visit Lord Vishnu Temples for prayers. Various dances are performed and different types of sports events are also organised on this day.
What is Onasadya?
Onasadya is the most important part of Festival Onam. It is the specially cooked food which includes various types of delicacies and traditional items like special Curries and other courses (food items) are the main attraction of this meal. There are more than 11 dishes those are served on the Banana leaf and these dishes have to be consumed with hands because spoons and forks are not allowed as it is against of tradition.
What is Vallamkali snake boat race?
Vallamkali is the snake boat race which is organised for the Onam celebrations. People from different Villages, these villages are mainly situated on the banks of river, take part in this race. These boats are considered as the deities and only men are allowed to touch it with bare feet. These are of 100 feet and face of each boat is shaped as Cobra Snake, also the boats are decorated with several things. Huge crowds can be seen who visit there to see the Vallamkali snake boat race. Even it draws international tourists also. According to the Vallamkali race rules and regulations, one boat will have 150 men in which 25 should be singers of traditional songs and rest should be Oarsmen.
Main Customs and Rituals performed for Onam
Maveli Pooja is practiced on Ninth and Tenth day of Onam. Three Idols are made with red sand and they are placed in the corridor of house and the person who earns for the house use to make prayers in the early morning before these idols.
It is the large procession arranged in Emakulam District of Kerala. Large number of elephants takes part in this procession. These elephants are decorated in the same way as they were decorated for the ride of kings.
Onathallu is a sport in which male members wear short Dhoti and fights without using anything, just with hands. Onathallu competitions are arranged at many places and are witnessed by thousands of people. This tradition is in practice from the older times.