The Enthralling Onam Celebrations in Kerala: What Not to Miss
Tags: Culture of Kerala, Farmstays in Kerala, Harvest Festival of Kerala, Kerala Snake Boat Races, Malayali Culture, Malayali New Year Celebration, Offbeat Experience in Kerala, Onam Celebrations in Kerala, Onam Celebrations., Onam Festival In Kerala
The festival of Onam is one of the most significant and popular festivals in Kerala and is a beautiful depiction of the various facets of Malayali culture. An occasion that celebrates the latest rice harvest and marks the beginning of the New Year for Malayali Hindus, Onam falls during the rainy season when the Monsoon showers are at their peak. There are two prominent theories regarding the origin of the festival. The first legend states that the tradition of the Onam festival began as a way to celebrate Mahabali’s annual return to his kingdom after he humbly offered it to the Vamana avatar of Lord Vishnu. On the other hand, as per the second legend, the festivities of Onam began as a way to celebrate Parashuram’s creation of Kerala.
In the present day, Onam is celebrated with much exuberance and enthusiasm by the Malayali community and it is the time of the year when the most delectable cuisine, the most serenading music, and the most elegant costumes of the local culture are on display in Kerala.
Here are some of the striking features of the Onam festivities that one must not miss if they visit Kerala during the monsoon season.
Intricately Decorated Pookalam Designs
Throughout the ten day-long celebration of the Onam festival, every household in Kerala is decorated with a spectacular Pookalam, an arrangement of flower petals, at the doorway. The intricate and colorful Pookalam designs exhibit the creativity and the artistic talent of the locals and transform each neighborhood into a beautifully decorated canvas. The scent and hues of the flowers are so enchanting that you will wish to wander through the streets, gazing at the alluring Pookalam patterns.
The Exotic Kaikottikali Dance
Kaikottikali is an extremely elegant and graceful dance form that is performed especially during the Onam festival by the women of the Malayali community. Draped in magnificent gold and white costumes and wearing jasmine garlands in their hair, the women perform the traditional dance steps, which are believed to bless them with a prosperous married life, in concentric circles. What sets this dance form apart from the rest is that it is not accompanied by any musical instruments, only by the clapping and singing of the women.
The Breathtaking Snake Boat Races
Yet another unique and intriguing feature of the Onam celebrations are the Snake Boat Races that are organised in the rivers and backwaters of Kerala. The Snake Boats, which are huge and slender canoe boats, are specially decorated for the event. Teams position themselves on the boats with their oars in their hands. Once the race begins, the rhythm of the oars follows the beats of the song being hummed by the singers. Crowds cheer on the oarsmen, creating an energetic atmosphere that captivates all the onlookers.
The Ambrosial Onasadya
The most delicious aspect of the Onam festival is the Onasadya, an elaborate feast that forms an essential part of the festivities. Usually, 11-13 vegetarian dishes are served as a part of Onasadya on a tender banana leaf. Rice is the primary ingredient of the meal and is accompanied by an assortment of curries, vegetables, and pappadams. The meal is first offered to the Gods and then to the guests, and is supposed to be eaten with the hands instead of a fork and spoon. This is one meal that will leave you licking your fingers and smacking your lips.
The Melodious Onappaattu
In the Malayali culture, there are specific songs dedicated to particular occasions and Onappaattu is the collection of songs that are sung during the Onam festivities. Each song is extremely melodious and becomes even more so due to the mellifluous voices of the locals. Most of the songs are related to the ancient King Mahabali and sing praises of his reign. Men and women dressed in traditional attire sing these songs to create a harmony that is incredibly soothing to the listeners’ ears.
These unique rituals and traditions make Onam the perfect occasion to immerse in the local culture of Kerala. Choosing a farmstay for your accommodation during your Kerala trip is the best way to get a chance to celebrate Onam like the locals. So this monsoon, head over to Kerala to revel in the joyful and festive spirit of the Onam celebrations.