Onam or Thiruvonam is an auspicious harvest festival celebrated every year in Kerala. It is a 10-day festival celebrated to commemorate the return of King Mahabali/Maveli to his State.
Each day of Onam has a great significance and is observed with great fervor and enthusiasm. According to the Malayalam calendar, Onam falls in the month of Chingam, usually in between August and September.
The Onam festival also marks the beginning of a new year, known as Kolla Varsham. Let us read about the Onam history, significance, date, time, rituals, and more.
Onam 2023: Date and Time
This year, the ten day festival of Onam started from 20 August. The last day of Onam celebrations is called as Thiruvonam, which will be observed on 31 August 2023.
According to Drik Panchang, the auspicious time of Thiruvonam is as follows:
Thiruvonam Nakshatram Start Time: 2:43 am on 29 August
Thiruvonam Nakshatram End Time: 11:50 pm on 29 August
History and Origin of Onam – The Harvest Festival of Kerala
Onam is the harvest festival of Kerala, celebrated to commemorate and honour the return of demon king known as Mahabali or Maveli to his state. According to mythology, King Mahabali ruled all three kingdoms of the world after triumphing over the Gods. Due to his kind, loving , and generous nature, King Mahabali was quite renowned among the people. Annoyed by the popularity of King Mahabali, the Gods went to Lord Vishnu to seek his help. Lord Vishnu visited King Mahabali in the form of a Brahmin dwarf, Vamana.
King Mahabali promised Vamana he would fulfill all his wishes, to which Vamana replied that he wants three pieces of land. In the first and second steps, Vamana rose in size, covering the sky and the Netherworld. He was about to take the third step when King Mahabali offered Vamana his head.
Impressed by his generosity and sacrifice, Lord Vishnu granted a boon to King Mahabali to rule his kingdom till the end of Kalyuga, and visit the people of his beloved state during Onam. This is the reason people of Kerala celebrate Onam.
During Onam, the people of Kerala construct and spread floral carpets known as Pookkalam in front of their houses to welcome King Mahabali.
Onam 2023: List of 10 Days of Onam and Their Significance
Onam is a ten day festival celebrated in Kerala. Each day has a significance of its own. The following are the names of all ten days of Onam.
1. Atham: This is the first day of Onam. Athachamayam processions to Vamanamoorthy Thirrikara Temple and throughout the Kochi takes place on this day. The first layer of Pookkalam called Athapoo is made on the first day from the yellow petals of flowers.
2. Chithira: This is the second day of Onam. It is also celebrated with pomp and show. Second and third layers of Pookkalam are made on this day with orange and yellow petals.
3. Chodi: The third day of Onam is called Chodi. On this day one more layer is added to Pookkalam. People also perform Onakkodi ritual, in which they purchase new clothes and jewellery for their loved ones.
4. Vishakam: This is the fourth day of Onam. It marks the beginning of Onasadya. People stock up new crops of the season at their homes, and also prepare different varieties of delicacies.
5. Anizham: This is the fifth day of Onam. It is popular for Vallamkali, a traditional boat race held at the Pamba river.
6. Thriketta: This is the sixth day of Onam. On this day, people visit temples and their ancestral homes to seek blessings. Pookkalam is embellished with new blooms on Thriketta.
7. Moolam: The seventh day of Onam is called Moolam. On this day people start offering the Onasadya. Traditional folk dances like Pulikali and Kaikottukali are performed throughout the state of Kerala.
Onam Sadhya – a wonderful and grand feast is presented on the 10th day of Onam. This feast is served on a banana leaf and represents significant cultural and social connotations.
8. Pooradam: It is the eigth day of Onam festival. On this day, new blooms are added to Pookkalam to make it larger. The Pooradam ritual is performed by placing the statues of King Mahabali and Vamana at the center of Pookkalam.
9. Uthradom: The ninth day of festival is called Uthradom. On this day, the preparations for the arrival of King Mahabali are at peak. People prepare delicacies from the new crops of the season.
10. Thiruvonam: It is the tenth and most auspicious day of Onam festival. People decorate their houses for the arrival of King Mahabali. Onasadya feast is also prepared on this day.