Onam: Celebrating Kerala's Rich Cultural Heritage

Onam: Celebrating Kerala's Rich Cultural Heritage

Madan KumarAug 24, '23

Onam is a traditional harvest festival celebrated predominantly in the south Indian state of Kerala. It is one of the most important cultural occasions in the area and is very significant from a religious and historical standpoint. Onam is a show of cultural legacy, from boat races to the ornate flower carpets and classical dances, it is a spectacle of colours, traditions, and cultural heritage.

The legend behind Onam: The story of King Mahabali

Onam is a ten-day celebration that typically takes place in the Malayalam month of Chingam (August to September), indicating the start of the harvest and ushering in the fabled King Mahabali's reappearance.

The legend of King Mahabali describes him as a wise and generous king who was just and well-liked. But the gods were worried about him because of his rising fame and power, so they turned to Lord Vishnu for help. Vamana, a dwarf Brahmin who requested charity from King Mahabali, was Vishnu in human form. Mahabali, whose kindness was well renowned, agreed to the Brahmin's request.

Then Vamana unveiled his heavenly form, enveloping the universe in three stages. He took his first step, covering the entire earth, and his second, the whole sky. Mahabali kept his promise and offered his own head as a stepping stone when there was nowhere else to put his third step. Lord Vishnu was moved by the king's unwavering devotion and selflessness and bestowed Mahabali with a special blessing. Vamana gave Mahabali a boon to visit his folks once a year as a token of appreciation for his humility and charity. Onam is a festival honouring King Mahabali's annual return home. It is believed that at this time King Mahabali's spirit returns to Kerala, bringing with it wealth, happiness, and abundance.

The legend serves as a reminder of the virtues that people of Kerala hold dear, including humility, charity, and the value of community. Onam is therefore more than just a holiday, it is also a time to reflect on these traditional values while offering gratitude for the blessings showered upon people.

As the Onam festival draws near, the people of Kerala anxiously prepare to receive their beloved monarch by decorating their homes with colourful floral carpets, taking part in traditional dances and indulging in mouthwatering feasts. Every part of the state is infused with a sense of togetherness and unity, which fosters a festive mood.

Onam preparations: The beauty of Pookkalam (flower carpet)

A traditional and ornate floral pattern known as "Pookkalam" is created during the Onam celebration. It is a visually appealing décor made of many different kinds of petals and flowers. Pookkalam is a combination of the Malayalam terms "poo," which means flowers, and "kalam," which means artwork or design.

Making Pookkalam is an art that involves placing flowers in lovely patterns on the ground, frequently in the form of circles or other geometric shapes. It is typically built in front of buildings, temples, and other gathering places to welcome the legendary King Mahabali, whose return is commemorated during the onam festival.

People of all ages participate in the collaborative and social activity of precisely arranging flowers and petals to create a Pookkalam. Depending on the participants' abilities, detailed designs ranging from simple to highly sophisticated are made using a variety of flowers. The Pookkalam expands and becomes more intricate during the course of the ten-day Onam celebration, adding to the mood and sense of togetherness.

Sadya: The elaborate Onam feast

The lavish and traditional vegetarian meal known as "Onam Sadya" is an essential component of the harvest festival . A large and lavish meal featuring a selection of food that combines different tastes, textures, and culinary traditions is served on banana leaves.

This spread is renowned for its richness and variety, presenting a tasteful blend of different flavours from spicy to sweet. Each item is carefully laid on the banana leaf in a certain order, frequently beginning with salt and pickles, then a variety of curries, vegetables, lentil dishes, rice, and sweets.

Happy onam designed T-shits

Key elements consists of:

  • Rice: This is typically served as the main course along with a number of other curries and side dishes.
  • Sambar: A savoury lentil and vegetable stew.
  • Avial: Vegetable dish with coconut and spices.
  • Thorans: Coconut and spices added to stir-fried vegetables.
  • Olan: A delicacy made from coconut milk-cooked red cowpeas and ash gourd.
  • Kalan: A vegetable-based curry made with yogurt.
  • Pulissery: A vegetable-based curry made with buttermilk.
  • Pachadi: A yogurt-based dish containing fruits or vegetables is called pachadi.
  • Payasam: A sweet dish made from rice, coconut milk, jaggery, and occasionally fruits or lentils.
  • Banana: Served as a dessert or a palette cleanser.

As a symbol of hospitality and community, this platter is frequently served during Onam celebrations, bringing together families, friends, and communities for a feast.

Vallamkali: The thrilling snake boat race

The mesmerizing and thrilling Onam boat race, popularly known as "Vallam Kali," takes place during the joyous Onam celebrations. Intricately crafted long boats with a team of expert oarsmen on board race against one another in Kerala's backwaters or rivers in this exhilarating show. The races are an amazing sight to see as they showcase the rowers' coordination, speed, and energy.

This event is a highlight for both competitors and spectators because of the thrill, camaraderie, and lively cultural displays that go along with them. This custom has a long history and is ingrained in their culture. It demonstrates the state's close ties to rivers and respect for the role that water plays in daily life.

Embrace the Spirit of Onam with Gubbacci Apparels

As the Onam holiday season draws near, the custom of giving takes center stage, allowing us a chance to show our love and fellowship. With a dash of cultural flair from the unique Onam t-shirt collection from Gubbacci Apparels, elevate your gift-giving experience this year. Our tastefully created t-shirts which can also be customized, perfectly capture the atmosphere of this joyful event, enabling your loved ones to proudly display their holiday cheer. Our Onam t-shirts are a special way to honour the festival's history, whether it is through a vivid picture of the Pookkalam or a creative blend of traditional and modern aspects. Let your presents from Gubbacci Apparels represent the genuine essence of Onam by highlighting not only the rich cultural diversity of the celebration but also the warmth and community it nurtures. Please visit our website at https://www.gubbacci.com/collections/onam-festival-collection for your last minute gifting ideas.

Onam T-shirt collection

Onam is a time of unity, joy, and cultural richness, where people of all backgrounds come together to celebrate Kerala's heritage and traditions. The festival embodies the spirit of generosity, harmony, and community, making it a cherished occasion for Keralites worldwide. We hope our post provided you with insightful information about the significance of Onam and its customs. If you want to experience the magic of Onam firsthand, we encourage you to visit Kerala during this festive season and experience the cultural heritage and create memories that will last a lifetime. Thank you for reading, and we wish you a happy and prosperous Onam!

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