Onam is an annual holiday and festival celebrated in Kerala, India. It is also a harvest festival.
Onam is the official state festival of Kerala since 1960. It is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm all over the state and is generally celebrated by by the Malayalee community around the world. Onam is one of the three major festivals of the state, the other two being Vishu and Thiruvathira.
The first Onam also known as ‘Uthraadam’, is the Onam eve. Many believe this to be the day when King Mahabali returns to the state of Kerala. On the second day — also referred to as Thiruvonam — it is believed that he pays a visit to people’s houses. Preparations for his departure begin from the third day, and the fourth day is observed as ‘Sri Narayana Guru Jayanthi’. In the consequent days, post-Onam celebrations continue, with the aforementioned cultural programmes.
Visit of King Mahabali
Onam, though essentially a harvest festival, commemorates the annual visit of mythical king Mahabali who is considered to have ruled ancient Kerala. Keralites consider their state to have experienced its golden age during his rule. Without class, caste, or religious divides, a prosperous agrarian culture and almost no poverty, Mahabali’s kingdom signifies Kerala at its best. The decorations, festivities, and indulgences are the state’s residents’ way of showing their prosperity and happiness to their celebrated king.
Ten Days of celebration
The ten day celebrations start with Atham (day 1) and end with the most important day of Thiruvonam. Each of the days hold significance and mark a certain stage of Mahabali’s journey to Kerala. While it is common for all ten days to be observed as holidays, only four days are declared state holidays.