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Onam 2022: Festival Date, Rituals, History, and Significance of the day

by Rishika Choudhury

Date & Time: Sep 08, 2022 3:00 PM

Read Time: 3 minute

Onam is a harvest festival celebrated primarily in the Indian state of Kerala. It is one of Kerala's most anticipated and largest festivals, representing the annual return of the demon king Mahabali. All Malayalis or Keralites celebrate the Onam festival with great zeal and enthusiasm for ten days. This year's Onam festival begins on August 30th and will end on September 8th, 2022.

Onam 2022: Story

King Mahabali was a great and generous ruler of Kerala, according to Hindu mythology. During his reign, the kingdom prospered and became peaceful. Everyone was content, and everyone adored their King. 

Lord Vishnu was sent by the Devtas (gods of heaven) to end Mahabali's rule on Earth. Lord Vishnu appeared as Vamana Avatar and asked Mahabali for three feet of land.

Lord Vishnu measured all the worlds in two steps and asked Mahabali where he should put his third step. Vamana was asked by Mahabali to place his foot on his head. Lord Vishnu was pleased with Mahabali and gave him the order to rule until the end of the Kali Yuga. Lord Vishnu also granted Mahabali the boon of being able to visit his kingdom once a year. Every year, the people of his kingdom (Kerala) celebrate the Onam festival as the day of their beloved king Mahabali's return.

Onam 2022: Significance

Onam is celebrated at the beginning of Chingam, the first month of Kollavarsham, according to the Malyalam calendar. It is the time of year when the people of Kerala reap a bountiful harvest. Throughout Kerala, various festivals and cultural activities are held with great splendour and grandeur during Onam. This ten-day festival instils the best festive spirit in the people of Kerala.

Onam 2022: Rituals

1. Family members wake up early in the morning and wear new clothes called. They place Thrikkakara appan or Vaman Vishnu idols and worship.
2. Malayali women draw different “Pookkalam”, floral designs on the east side ground of their homes. They light lamps and sing traditional Onam songs (Onappattukal) to welcome King Mahabali.
3. On Thiru Onam, a swinging ceremony is performed in which a swing is slung on the high branch of a tree. Women decorate this swing with flowers and ride it by turns singing melodious songs.
4. On the third day of Onam, people invite their relatives and friends to grand celebration called “Onam Sadya”. They cook 13 dishes including Rice, vegetable curry, curd and Payasam (sweet stew) and serve it on banana leaves. Payasam is considered as the must having dish on Onam. It is prepared by milk, rice, sugar and coconut.
5. The famous “Vallamkali” or Snake Boat Race is organised at various places. In Alappuzha, Kerala hundreds of large and decorated boats with at least seven drums participate in the race. People from abroad and different parts of the country visit to witness this grand event of Onam.
6. On the ninth day of Onam, family members give vegetables, coconut oil as gifts to the eldest member of the family called “Karanavar”. This tradition is mainly followed in the Nair sects of Kerala.
7. During Onam festival and specially on the tenth day, various cultural activities and festivities are held in temples and religious places. Elephants are decorated with ornaments and grand processions are held.

Also Read: Onam 2022: All you need to know about the 10 days of celebration

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