Onam is a 10 day Keralite festival. The most significant day is the tenth day, which is known as Thiruvonam. As it is the major day, people generally interchangeably use the terms Onam and Thiruvonam. Shravan Nakshatra is known as Thiru Onam in Malayalam. Tiru Onam Pooja is perform when Shravana/Thiruvonam Nakshatra in prevalent in the Chingam month as per the Malayalam Calendar.
Thiruvonam is made of 2 terms - ‘Thiru’ and ‘Onam’. ‘Tiru’ means the one which is pious; it is equal to ‘Shree’ in Sanskrit. People consider that every year on this day King Maha Bali visits his people from the nether world (Patala Loka). Additionally, there are many other beliefs respective with this festival such as the birth of Vamana Avatar of Vishnu, etc.
In Kerala, there are four days holiday for this festival, which begins from a day before Thiruvonam and ends 2 days after Thiruvonam. These 4 days are known as 1st Onam, 2nd Onam, 3rd Onam, and 4th Onam. The 2nd Onam is the main Thiruvonam day.
- As Thiruvonam is one of the most significant festivals of Kerala, Keralite people try to make its celebration as grand as possible. The celebrations begin ten days before Thiru Onam, which is the 1st day of Onam festival known as Atham.
- On the 2nd day i.e. Chithira, people start cleaning and decorating their houses for the 10th day, Tiru Onam.
- The 8th day i.e. Pooradam is followed by the final shopping’s for the great day of Thiruvonam.
- On the 9th day i.e. Uthradom, last minute shopping’s are done like fresh and vegetables and fruits, etc. In the evening of the 9th day, people cut vegetables and make other required arrangements for the great day.
- On the 10th day morning, people wake up early morning; take bath, wearing new clothes, and give donations & charity to the needy as per the efficiency. In many houses, the old members of the family bring clothes for everyone.
- Thiruvonam Pooja and rituals must be performing during the Thiruvonam/Shravan Nakshatra.
- The house is cleaned by the women and decorated beautifully with flower carpets, mainly outside the main door of the home to welcome the spirit of King Bali. Rice paste is also used to make the designs on the entrance in some houses.
- A grand feast called Onam Sadhya is also ready for the King, so that they get his blessings. Onam Sadhya is one of the main highlights of this festival. The festival can’t celebrate without it. Those who celebrate Onam either prepare it at home or get it somewhere. The feast includes many dishes, usually around 26; and is served on the banana plant leaves. Dishes include different types of chips, sweet dishes, buttermilks, lentils, pickles, etc.
- In the evening, various games and cultural events are performing.
- Lamps, lights, etc. make the entire ambiance radiant after the sunset.
History of Onam
As the mythology goes, King Mahabali was very mighty. He ruled over all 3 Lokas -Deva Loka (Heaven), Bhu Loka (Earth) & Patala Loka (Nether World). Though he belongs to an evil spirit clan, yet he was very kind and his people loved him. But, Devtas were not actually happy with him, as he had defeated them to win the paradise. So, they requested Lord Vishnu to help them get their kingdom back. In order to help them, Lord Vishnu took the Vamana Avatar, where he took the form of a midget Brahmin. As Brahmins were consider like gods and it is considered favorable to give them help, King Bali asked the Vamana about his wish when Lord visited him in this Disguise. Vamana requested for just his three steps of land. As soon as King asked him to take those three steps, Vamana started getting enlarged and became huge. He placed his 1st foot on heaven, 2nd on earth, and as there was no area left to put his 3 step, King offered his head. Vamana pushed the King down to the netherworld with his third step. The way King offered everything so gently; Lord Vishnu got impressed and asked him for a boon. So, the King request if he can visit his people once a year. The boon was granted. Hence, on this day of Thiruvonam, King Mahabali visits his people every year.
Ten-Day Onam Celebration in Kerala
- Atham (The 1st Day): On this day, people do the daily routine things in the morning and then visit a temple to worship. Breakfast on the day is usually steamed bananas and fried Papad. This breakfast is taken throughout the Onam festival by many people. After that, people make Onam flower carpet (Pookalam).
- Chithira (The 2nd Day): 2nd day also begins with worship and prayers. After that, some new flowers are added to the Pookalam by women and men procure flowers.
- Chodhi (The 3rd Day): Third day is quite significant because all the markets gets ready for the shopping and people buy stuff to prepare for the great day of Thiruvonam.
- Visakam (The 4th Day): On this day, flower carpet making competition is held at many places. Women prepare chips, pickles etc. for the main day.
- Anizham (The 5th Day): The main attraction of this day is the great snake boat race known as Vallamkali.
- Thriketa (The 6th Day): Many cultural events are prepared on this day. People of all ages participate in it and they also visit their loved ones to add charm to the festivity.
- Moolam (The 7th Day): The excitement of people is shooting high on this day. Markets get adorned with a variety of food items. People roam around and relish many varieties of dishes. Women buy several things to beautify decorate their houses.
- Pooradam (The 8th Day): On this day, people make some small idols of clay in the shape of pyramids. They call them “Maa” and offer beautiful flowers to them.
- Uthiradam (The 9th Day): Also, known as First Onam, it is the day of super-excitement when everyone is desperately waiting for their King to arrive. All the arrangements become grand and women make huge Pookkalams.
- Thiruvonam (The 10th Day): The great day comes and everyone starts wishing each other, as their King Mahabali arrives to bless them. Most beautiful flower carpet is made on this day and the grand Onam food platter, Sadhya is ready. Many cultural events are prepared at different places and fireworks add glam to the ambiance. The day is also known as 2nd Onam.
Onam festival extends two more days after Thiruvonam making it a total 12th day celebration. However, the ten days previous Thiruvonam are considered main.
- Avittom (The 11th Day): Also known as 3rd Onam, people get ready for the return of the King on this day. Some people do a ritual of flowing the Onathappan statue in the river or sea, which they keep in the middle of their Pookalam throughout the ten days. After this, the flower carpets are removed and cleaned. However, some people keep the flower carpets (Pookalam) till twenty eight days after Thiruvonam. On this day, the famous Tiger dance (Pulikali) is also performing.
- Chathayam (The 12th Day): All the festivity officially comes to an end with a grand dance festival.
With this piece of information on Onam and Thiruvonam, we hope that you will be able to make your celebrations even more happening.