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  Onam day is a special day celebrated in India  by the malayali people of Kerala state . It is a special day set aside to celebrate the establishment of the creation of one of the beautiful india state called Kerala . The word "kerala" is an Hindi word which means " God's own country " . The festival celebrates the return from the underworld of King Mahabali, who was considered a great ruler.

Legend king Mahabali

Onam is an annual  holiday and Hindufestival celebrated in Kerala, India. It is a harvest festival celebrated by Malayalam irrespective of religion. Date of Onam is based on the Hindu Panchangam and falls on the 22nd nakshatra Thiruvonam in the month Chingam of Malayalam calendar, which in Gregorian calendar overlaps with August–September.  According to legends, the festival is celebrated to commemorate King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam. 

The legend of king Mahabali is the most popular and most fascinating legend behind Onam . Onam celebrate the visit of king mahabali to the state every year . The festival is celebrated with fervour as king mahabali is respected by his subject . King mahabali is popularly called maveli and onathapan.

In our conversation with Simba , a keralites ,he said "  It is said that a great king ( King Mahabali ) was sent to the underworld by Vishnu (or Vamana), but was given an allowance to visit his people once a year".

Legend has it that when Mahabali ruled, there was no discrimination based on caste, and there was no corruption or crime. The Kerala government made it an official holiday in the 1960s. The area in Kochi called Thrikkakkara is particularly significant during the festival, because of its temple.

There are public holidays in Kerala every year for the festival; this year there will be days off for Keralites from September 10 to September 13, with families spending time together and many people getting up early to pray.   

Onam falls in the month of Chingam, which is the first month according to the Malayalam Calendar. The celebrations mark the Malayalam New Year, are spread over ten days, and conclude with Thiruvonam. The ten days are sequentially known as Atham, Chithira, Chodhi, Vishakam, Anizham, Thriketa, Moolam, Pooradam, Uthradam and Thiruvonam. The first and the last day are particularly important in Kerala and to Malayalee communities elsewhere.

The Atham day is marked with the start of festivities at Vamanamoorthy Thrikkakara temple (Kochi). This Vishnu temple is considered as the focal centre of Onam and the abode of Mahabali, with the raising of the festival flag.Parades are held, which are colourful and depict the elements of Kerala culture with floats and tableaux.

Other days have a diverse range of celebrations and activities ranging from boat races, cultural programs, sports competitions, dance events, martial arts, floral Rangoli – pookkalam, prayers, shopping, donating time or food for charity to spending time with family over feasts. Men and women wear traditional dress. The Kerala sari or Kasavu sari is particularly wore on this day .

Activities done to celebrate this period are as follows ;

*Athachamayan : This parade features elephants marching, drum beats and other music, folk art forms, floats and colorfully dressed people with masks.

*Pookkalam (Flower Rangoli): Floral Rangoli during Onam are a traditionThrikkakara Appan Onathappan idol (an icon of Vamana avatar) inside Pookalam during Onam . The floral Rangoli, known as Onapookkalam or just Pookkalam , is made out of the gathered blossoms with several varieties of flowers of differing tints pinched up into little pieces to design and decorate patterns on the floor, particularly at entrances and temple premises like a flower mat. Lamps are arranged in the middle or edges. It is a work of religious art, typically the team initiative of girls and women, who accomplish it with a delicate touch and a personal artistic sense of tone and blending.

*Music and dance 

* Pulikali : tiger dance 

* Vallamkali : Boat race 

* Onam sadya : The Onam sadya (feast) is another indispensable part of Thiruvonam, and almost every Keralite attempts to either make or attend one. The Onasadya reflects the spirit of the season and is traditionally made with seasonal vegetables such as yam, cucumber, ash gourd and so on. The feast is served on plantain leaves and consists of nine courses, but may include over two dozen dishes, including (but not limited to)Chips (especially Banana chips), Sharkaraveratti (Fried pieces of banana coated with jaggery),  Pappadam, various vegetable and soups such as Injipuli (also called PuliInji), Thoran, Mezhukkupuratti, Kaalan, Olan, Avial, Sambhar, Dal served along with a small quantity of ghee, Erisheri, Molosyam, Rasam, Puliseri (also referred to as Velutha curry), Kichadi (not to be confused with Khichdi) and Pachadi (its sweet variant), Moru (buttermilk or curd mixed with water), Pickles both sweet and sour, and coconut chutney. The feast ends with a series of dessert called Payasam (a sweet dish made of milk, sugar, jaggery, and other traditional Indian savories) eaten either straight or mixed with ripe small plantain. 

Happy Onam day to all keralites . Jai Hind 

Reporter : Strongroom media 

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