Onam is the state festival of Kerala and witnesses one of the most popular celebrations in the country. It falls during the month of Chingam according to Malayalam Calendar that corresponds to August or September of the Gregorian Calendar. Onam also marks the Malayalam New Year. The 10-day long harvest festival date in India for Onam 2017 begins from August 25 (Atham), until September 6 (Thiruvonam). The first and tenth day of the Onam is considered to be most important ones in the festival of floral carpet Rangoli (Pookalam) and Sadhya. Onam is commemorated as the homecoming of King Mahabali, a legendary king, who ruled Kerala in ancient times. Elaborate feasts, cultural and folk dance, elephants, boat races, flower arrangements are a part of Onam carnival.
Significance and legend associated with Onam
Onam is celebrated to welcome the king back to the land that he ruled which is the present-day Kerala. According to legend, during the reign of Mahabali, Kerala experienced a time of prosperity and happiness and the king was revered by all his subjects. However, Mahabali was an egoist and fought with the Devas to showcase his supremacy. He defeated them and conquered their region and became lord of the two worlds. In order to celebrate his victory he decided to perform a yajna and proclaimed that whoever comes to him to ask for anything, they would be gratified.
The Devas asked Lord Vishnu to wage war on Mahabali and get their kingdom back but he refused as Mahabali was his devotee. However, he thought of testing him, so he took avatar as a dwarf (Vamana avatar) and asked Mahabali for three paces of land. Mahabali agreed thinking the dwarf will not be able to ask a lot. But Lord Vishnu in the Vamana avatar increased his size and with two paces covered the entire kingdom of Mahabali, for the third pace Mahabali offered him his head. The God granted him a boon that he could visit his kingdom and people once a year and this visit is celebrated as Onam.
People of Kerala go all out to show to their lovable king that they are happy and prosperous in his kingdom. They decorate their houses with flowers, colours and delectable feasts. Everything is grand in Onam. Boat races, martial arts, folk dance, mask dance, elephants and nine-course meals consisting of 11 to 13 essential dishes and called Onasadya is served.
According to Drik Panchang, the Thiruvonam which is the last and most important day of Onam celebrations will be celebrated this year on Monday, September 4, 2017. The Onam muhurat timings are below:
Thiruvonam Nakshathram Begins = 09:37 on 3/Sep/2017
Thiruvonam Nakshathram Ends = 11:18 on 4/Sep/2017
Onam is being celebrated with utmost devotion and euphoria in the country and people have started gearing up for the festivities in store. The ten days would see people wishing each other, donning new clothes and making delectable dishes for the festival.
(Article Edited – Vandana Srivastawa)