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Onam Festivals are the heart of any culture.

And India is very rich in this regard.

It observes numerous grand celebrations each year.

One such festival is Onam, the very identity of the state of Kerala.

About the festival: Onam is a 10 day long festival that is mostly celebrated by the Malayali people of Kerala.

 It falls on the 22nd Nakshatra Thiruvonam in the Malayali month of chingam, which usually overlaps with August-September.

Onam is the harvest festival of Kerala and is celebrated in a grand way.

There are many exciting aspects of the festival starting from boat races to music, tiger dances, and many more.

Onam is marked as the state holiday of Kerala and is also celebrated as the new year by the Malayali people.

There is something so beautiful, something very pure about this festival that makes it the very heart of Kerala culture.

Legends behind Onam: Every cultural festival celebrated in India has some background attached to it. These stories give the festivals a timeless aura.

The same is true with Onam as well.

In the local culture, one may find many people having different reasons to celebrate Onam.

 But here are the two most popular stories that the people of Kerala still behold:

  1. Return of Mahabali: Mahabali or King Bali was a descendant of the Kashyap dynasty of Asuras.

Not to be confused with Bali of Ramayana, he was the grandson of the great devotee of Vishnu, Prahalad.

He was a generous and righteous king full of bravery and vigor.

He had won both earth and heaven due to his mighty powerd.

Devas were worried because of him.

They approached Lord Vishnu to seek help.

Bali arranged an Ashwamedha yagya and gave everyone whatever they asked for.

Lord Vishnu came there in the form of a Vamana(dwarf) brahmin.

When Bali asked Vamana, He said that he needs only three steps of land. Bali agreed immediately.

Then lord Vamana took a massive form, and covered the entire earth with one step and the entire heaven with the second step.

Realizing that he was none other than the Lord himself, Bali bowed down and offered his head for the lord to put His third step on it.

What happened next is a subject of various interpretations.

Some texts state that he was taken to Patala Lok, some say, Heaven, while some state he was elevated to the ultimate Vaikuntha.

Nonetheless, Bali was granted the boon that he will be able to return to earth every year to see his people during the harvest season.

 It is for his visit that the people of Kerala celebrate the Onam festival.

2) The legend of Parshuram: Parshuram too is an Avatar or incarnation of Lord Vishnu who appeared in the era of king Kartavirya.

Vishnu took the form of Parshuram because he was upset with Khatriyas indulging in wars all the time.

Kaartavirya once visited the hermitage of Parshuram when he was not present there.

Without seeking permission, he took away a calf of the cow.

 When Parashurama returned, he was enraged with the king’s injustice and challenged him for a war. The king and his warriors were killed in the war.

It is said that Parshuram threw his axe after the war, and it hit the sea, which created the land of Kerala and other coastal areas.

It is also said Parshuram is the man who created the Western ghats range.

Another legend states that he created a mountain range with his axe to bring Namboothiri brahmins to Southern India.

Celebrations of Onam: Onam is a celebration like no other.

The whole Kerala lit up in a united sense of joy and exuberance.

One could see all colors of the festival coming together at the grand celebration of Onam.

It falls on the first month of the Malayali calendar and is celebrated for 10 days.

The first day is known as Atham.

It starts with auspicious proceedings at the Thrikakara temple, the focal point of the Onam festival.

A grand procession starts from the Thrippunithura temple.

The procession consists of elephants, drum beats, folk dance and music, and many cultural representations.

Themes from Ramayana and Mahabharata are shown as well.

In ancient times, a grand military procession was organized by the king of Kochi towards the temple.

The mood of festivity covers every part of Kerala during Onam.

Folk dances, music, donations, games, pujas, and other cultural activities are held everywhere.

Beautiful flower rangolis known as Pookkalam are made at entrances.

The sizes of Pookkalam grow with each passing day of Onam.

Boat races are particularly very popular during the Onam festival.

People from all over India come to Kerala to witness these boat races.

Large snake-shaped boats stand in competition against each other.

These boat races are held on the sacred Pampa river of Kerala.

The last day of Onam ends with grand feasts organized by Malayali people.

It includes traditional Malayali food as well as foods from other traditions.

This day marks the end of a beautiful time, a time like no other for the Malayali people.

Cultural significance: Onam is the biggest festival celebrated in Kerala.

The whole state glitters in collective harmony during the festival.

Although the roots of the festival are attached to Hindu mythology, this festival transcends the religious and social barrier and is celebrated by the whole of Kerala.

Many Christian and Muslim people become part of the grand celebration in their own way.

Even though politics has entered the beautiful culture in recent years, still, the beauty and harmony of the festival remain untouched.

Onam ties the people of Kerala together in inseparable oneness.

Summary: Onam is the very heart of Kerala.

One needs to witness the celebration to feel the energy that fills the atmosphere during this time.

It is yet another beautiful pearl in the garland of Indian heritage.

Onam is no more just a celebration for Malayali people.

They live this festival, it has become a very part of their life, an inseparable one.

Onam Festival Celebration – The story of King Mahabali

Onam is one of the most significant festivals for the people of Kerala. It is celebrated to welcome the asura King Mahabali. Onam is connected to the Vamana avatar of Lord Vishnu.

Mahabali (Maveli) was the son of Virochana and grandson of Prahlada.

Upon the advice of his Guru, Sukracharya, Mahabali performed a Yagya, a grand ritual, to win back his kingdom and all the powers seized by Indra during the churning of the cosmic ocean.  

Mahabali gained great powers after performing the Yagya which helped him defeat Indra in a battle, consolidate his powers and rule the three worlds. In order to retain his position, Sukracharya suggested that he continue performing Yagyas and offer magnanimous alms to the poor and brahmins. 

Meanwhile, distressed over Indra’s beleaguered state, his mother Aditi sought Lord Vishnu’s help by undertaking the Payovrata vow.

Vishnu appeared before her and promised to be born as her son to kill Bali. 

Aditi gave birth to a boy whom she named Vamana.

Vamana transformed into a learned Brahmachari boy and visited the place where Mahabali was performing a Yagya.

The king welcomed the young genius with great joy and devoutly offered him whatever he desired. 

The young scholar asked for land equal to three times the length of his foot.

It was a meek request on the face of it, but Sukracharya recognized Vamana’s true identity and tried to dissuade Bali from accepting the request.

Mahabali refused to break his promise and said that he would be the most blessed person if it was Maha Vishnu indeed who sought the land. 

When the king was about to fulfil Vamana’s wish by pouring holy water from his Kamandala, Sukracharya took the form of a bee and blocked the vessel’s spout.

Vamana used a blade of grass to unblock the spout and ended up pricking Sukracharya’s eye.

As a result, Sukracharya left the vessel. 

Mahabali poured the water in his hand and asked him to show the land of which he wanted three feet. 

Vamana assumed ‘Viswaroopam’, a gigantic, resplendent form.

With the first step, he covered the entire earth.

His second step covered the entire Deva Loka (world of the gods) and then asked Mahabali as to where he could take the third step.

Mahabali said he had only his head left to offer and bowed to him.

Vamana placed his foot on the king’s head, sending the latter down to Paatala Loka (nether world) and thus granted Moksha (liberation).

In appreciation of his devotion, Vishnu also granted a boon that he could visit his kingdom once a year.

So, the people of Kerala believe that King Mahabali visits the kingdom in the Malayalam month of Chingam and celebrate Onam to welcome him.

Onam Pookalam

Onam, the joyous annual harvest festival of Kerala, is here, and it’s time to drench your home in a perfect aura of festivity.

Onam celebrations take place in the month of August-September for ten days; this year, it begins on August 20 and ends on August 31.

No denying the fact that traditions, rituals, colours, decor, delicacies and heartwarming celebrations make a festival come alive.

Keralites across the world celebrate this festival with great pomp and show.

Today, we discuss the importance and history of Onam along with interesting Onam decoration ideas for home.

So join us to discover what this auspicious occasion holds and revel in the fervour of Onam celebrations.

Significance of Onam

Onam holds great significance in the Malayalam calendar since it denotes the abundant harvest and marks the beginning of the new year.

The festival celebrates the return of King Mahabali or Maveli to Kerala as the demon king once ruled the state. 

The ten days of the festival are called:

  1. Atham
  2. Chithira
  3. Chodi
  4. Vishakam
  5. Anizham
  6. Thriketa
  7. Moolam
  8. Pooradam
  9. Uthradom 
  10. Thiruonam 

It is said that this is the time of the year when the people of Kerala gather the good harvest.

Various cultural associations and groups come together and organise cultural performances, games and community feasts during this time.

People clean and decorate their homes to welcome the spirit of King Mahabali, who is believed to visit every home in the state and check out the well-being of residents.

Story and History of Onam

As per Hindu mythology, King Mahabali was a kind and generous ruler of Kerala. People used to love their king.

Lord Vishnu was sent to the earth by Devtas (gods of heaven) to end the rule of Mahabali.

Lord Vishnu took the avatar of Vamana and asked Mahabali for 3 feet of land.

He took two steps to measure all the worlds and asked Mahabali for a place for his third step.

To this, Mahabali offered his head to Vamana and requested him to put his foot on it.

This impressed Lord Vishnu, and as a result, he ordered Mahabali to rule till the Kali Yuga ends.

Lord Vishnu also gave Mahabali a boon to visit his kingdom every year.

Therefore, people in Kerala celebrate the Onam festival as the day of Mahabali’s return to his kingdom. 

7 Interesting Onam Decoration Ideas for Home

Now that we have learned the significance and history of the Onam festival, let’s move further and know some remarkable Onam decoration ideas for home:

Design Onam Pookalam Rangoli at the Entrance

Onam Pookalam is the essence of this festival’s decorations. Pookalam is a craft of floral rangoli; and fresh flowers naturally have a connection to the festival since it is a harvest celebration with great significance.

This rangoli design at the entrance or around the pooja unit gives off a lively vibe and a warm welcome to the visitors and, of course, King Bali.

From spiral, leaves and Ganesha to 3D, Om and Kathakali, there are several Onam Pookalam designs to choose from.

Pick one that appeals to your senses the most and goes well with your home interiors.

Beautify the Doors with Flower Garlands

Use beautiful flower garlands, commonly called torans, to adorn the doors and bare walls of your home.

You can make torans from fresh mango leaves, marigolds or jasmine and hang them at the main door.

This is believed to bring home good luck and keep the negative energies away.

In addition, you can also spruce up your porches or balconies with a traditional touch during Onam celebrations by wrapping flower garlands around the pillars or grills.

Light up Your Home with Diyas and Lamps

Illuminating the space up is a great way to light up Onam decorations. Brighten up your home by lighting diyas, oil lamps and scented candles and let the surroundings shine in the love of festivities. It is said that lighted diyas help positivity enter your house.

You can also invest in classic chandeliers, contemporary lamps and glamorous pendant lights to prettify the home decor during Onam celebrations and lend your home interiors a personalised touch.

Lights will definitely double up the festive feel.

Beautify the Walls with Kathakali Face Art and Onam Crafts

Kathakali is a famous traditional Kerala dance form with great importance in the culture of the state and Keralites.

You can adorn your home with the beauty of the Kathakali face art on the wall or a wooden plank.

This will add colours and vibrance to the subtle decor of your home and add a unique flair to the setting.

The brightness and ethnicity of this art will showcase your aesthetic taste and suffuse festive energy into the atmosphere. 

Decorate with Fresh Flowers in a Bowl

Jazz up your living area or dining table with a centrepiece inspired by the wealth of harvest.

Collect some fresh flowers and arrange them in a glass bowl along with a few candles to infuse an absolute festive glee.

You can either use rose petals or make a collection of assorted flowers to add colour to the interiors.

It would be great if you could find an antique bowl – this will add a classic festive flavour.

Style up your Living Room with Traditional Prints

Colours, prints and patterns are the first thing to strike our minds when thinking of making our homes festive-ready.

Work with Kerala-inspired traditional prints for cushion covers, throws, curtains, mats and even wall decorations to create a perfect festive atmosphere.

Use bright and vibrant colours and Mundu fabric, which is the speciality of Kerala, to upgrade the charm of your living room. 

Give Your Bedroom A Cosy and Vibrant Feel

We often forget our bedrooms while doing up our homes for festive occasions.

This Onam, add a festive touch to your bedroom too in a traditional style.

Adorn with bright, traditional prints, fresh Jasmine flower decorations and wonderful smelling incense sticks.

Focus more on fresh floral prints – this will add a refreshing touch to the interiors, while incense sticks will lend a calming effect.

Opt for the traditional textile design of Kerala while purchasing furnishings. 


Onam, the vibrant and joyous harvest festival of Kerala, is a time of celebration, filled with rich traditions and colourful decorations. However, preparing your home for the festivities can often seem like a daunting task, especially when you’re unsure where to start. 

Whether you’re a Kerala-born-n-brought-up Malayali or somebody who wants to explore Onam festivities and decorations, look no further.

We’ve crafted this guide to help you navigate through the process with ease.

From creating a beautiful Atthapookalam to arranging a traditional Onam feast on a plantain leaf, we’ve got you covered. 

The Story of Onam

Onam is steeped in rich mythology that dates back centuries.

The festival commemorates the reign of the benevolent Asura(Daitya) king, Mahabali,(aka Maaveli) the grandson of Prahlada.

 According to popular legend, Mahabali’s rule was a golden era, marked by equality, justice, and abundance. 

A popular Onam-themed folk song/poem in Malayalam describes Mahabali reign in this manner—

Maveli Naadu vaanidum kaalam

Manushyarellarum onnu pole

Aamodathode vasikkum kaalam

Aapathangarku-mottilla thaanum

–which translates to

In the time when Maveli ruled the land,

Equality reigned, hand in hand,

Joy and mirth were everywhere,

Free from harm, and full of care.

However, his growing popularity and power became a concern for the Devas, the gods, who felt threatened.

They sought the help of Lord Vishnu, who, in the guise of a dwarf Brahmin named Vamana, tricked Mahabali into granting him a wish. 

Vamana asked for as much land as he could cover in three steps. Once the wish was granted, Vamana grew to an immense size and covered the earth and the heavens in two steps.

For the third step, the humble and honourable Mahabali offered his head. 

Touched by his devotion, Lord Vishnu granted him a boon – to visit his beloved subjects once a year.

It is this annual return of Mahabali that Onam celebrates, symbolising the spirit of sacrifice, humility, and the joy of welcoming a loved one home.

The History of Onam

However, historians put across a different origin for Onam.

During the Sangam period, when Buddhism was gaining traction in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the practice of Bhajans and scholarly pursuits became a popular way of life during the monsoon season. 

As the rains receded, coinciding with the Shravan season, people would resume their regular activities, marking the revival of business after the rainy hiatus.

Onam  Dates Explained: When is Onam Celebrated?

Onam is celebrated in the month of Chingam.

This corresponds to August-September in the Gregorian calendar and Bhadrapada-Shravana in the Hindu calendar.

The dates of Onam are calculated based on the Malayalam calendar, a solar calendar unique to the region.

This calendar, which begins in the year 825 CE, known as the Kollam Era, is divided into 12 months, each consisting of 29 or 30 days. 

The precise date of Onam is determined by the Panchangam, a traditional Hindu astrological calendar.

It falls on the 22nd nakshatra, or lunar mansion, called Thiruvonam. 

The festival spans ten days, with the first day known as Atham and the others sequentially labelled as Chithira, Chodhi, Vishakam, Anizham, Thriketa, Moolam, Pooradam, Uthradam and Thiruvonam, with Thiruvonam being the most important. 

In , Onam will be celebrated from August 20 to August 31, with Thiruvonam, a public holiday in Kerala, marking the high point of the festivities.

The Cultural Significance of Onam

The 21st-century perspective on Onam transcends geographical boundaries, resonating with the Malayali diaspora worldwide. For Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), particularly those from Kerala, Onam serves as a cultural tether, a vibrant reminder of their roots and traditions.

For Malayalis residing in non-Keralite states within India, Onam is a unifying force, a celebration of their shared heritage.

It’s a time when cultural associations and groups come together to organise community feasts, cultural performances, and games, creating a mini Kerala in their adopted states.

These celebrations help keep their cultural identity alive and foster a sense of community among Malayalis, irrespective of their location.


Now let’s explore some of the most popular rituals and practises that are associated with Onam–

1. Pookkalam

Pookkalam[Poo– Flower; Kalam– arrangement] often called an Atthappookkalam[Attham being the] is a beautiful flower rangoli created during Onam in front of homes and temples. 

It consists of intricate designs made with vibrant flowers.

 Families and even organisations often compete in Pookkalam competitions, showcasing their artistic abilities. 

2. Ona-Sadya

Ona-Sadya[Sadya– feast] is a traditional feast served on banana leaves during Onam.

It’s a grand meal which can consist of up to 100 dishes, including vegetables, fish, meat, and rice.

The variety and richness of the meal reflect the cultural diversity of Kerala.

It’s a communal experience, often shared with family and friends.

The feast is a highlight of the Onam celebration.

3. Pulikali

Pulikali[Puli–leopard Kali–game] is a traditional dance performed by men during Onam.

The performers are covered in turmeric and rice flour and dress up as tigers.

They dance to the beat of drums, mimicking the movements of tigers.

The dance is lively and colourful, attracting spectators from near and far.

Pulikali adds a unique and energetic flair to the Onam festivities.

4. Thiruvathira Kali

Thiruvathira Kali is a folk dance performed by women on the ninth day of Onam.

The dancers form a circle and move gracefully to traditional music.

It’s believed to bring good luck and is often performed around a lamp or floral decoration.

The dance symbolizes feminine beauty and grace.

Thiruvathira Kali adds a touch of elegance to the Onam celebration.

5. Onaththappan

Onaththappan is a ritual performed on the tenth day of Onam.

It involves creating pyramid-like structures representing Lord Vishnu and King Mahabali.

The ritual is a way of offering prayers and gratitude to King Mahabali.

It’s performed with devotion and reverence, often near a water body.

Onathappan marks the culmination of the Onam festival, signifying respect and honour for the legendary king.

Wanna Feel the Onam Vibes at Your Home-Away-from-Home?

Although it’s becoming more and more common for workplaces, colleges and communities outside Kerala to celebrate Onam, here are 3 Onam Celebration ideas for your home–

1. Make an Attha-Pookkalam at Home

All it takes is some flowers, a piece of thread and chalk.

Use the chalk piece(or a crayon)tied to the end of the thread to draw circular patterns.

You can find plenty of Atthapookalam design ideas on Pinterest. You can either use the flowers from your home or society garden or maybe order some online.

Add a traditional Nilavilakku(Kerala Style Lamp) and light a few agarbatti and soak in the Onam vibes.

Make it a family activity, allowing everyone to contribute.

2. Prepare an Ona-Sadya 

Chart out the menu for the Onam feast at least 2 days in advance. Include traditional dishes like sambar, avial, payasam and maybe Boli as well.

If you feel cooking is a chore, you can always order a Traditional Kerala feast via any of the reputed food delivery apps.

Some of these apps even send along washed and cut Banana leaves in which you can serve the feast.

3. Dress in Traditional Attire

Men can embrace the traditional Onam attire by wearing a mundu, preferably a white dhoti with a golden lining along with a traditional long Kurta.

Women, on the other hand, can dress in a traditional Kerala saree(or the two-piece saree aka Mundum Neriyathum/Sett-Mundu). 

Add golden ornaments to complete the look.

Pro Tip; men who feel skittish about the dhoti undraping itself can always opt for a velcro dhoti to save themselves from potential embarrassment.

Onam Without the Cleanup Woes: Let NoBroker Cleaning Service Handle the Aftermath

After soaking in the vibrant colours, tantalising flavours, and rich traditions of Onam, it’s natural to feel a bit overwhelmed by the thought of cleaning up post-festivities.

But worry not, for NoBroker cleaning service is here to take that burden off your shoulders. 

With our dedicated and professional team, we ensure that your home is restored to its pristine condition, allowing you to relax and reminisce about the joyous celebrations. 

Whether it’s the remnants of a beautiful Atthapookkalam or the aftermath of an indulgent Ona-Sadya, we’ve got you covered. 

Embrace the spirit of Onam without the stress of the aftermath, and let the NoBroker cleaning service be your helping hand in keeping the festive spirit alive, even after the celebrations have ended.

Book your cleaning and continue to bask in the warmth and joy of Onam, the NoBroker way!


Q1. What is the Significance of Onam, and Why is it Celebrated?

A.Onam celebrates the annual return of the benevolent Asura king, Mahabali, symbolising equality, justice, and abundance.

It’s a harvest festival that marks the end of the monsoon season and the revival of business and daily life.

The festival transcends religious boundaries and is a unifying celebration of Kerala’s rich cultural heritage.

Q2. What are the Traditional Dishes Served During Onam, and Where Can I Find Recipes?

  1. The traditional Onam feast, known as Ona-Sadya, includes a variety of dishes like sambar, Avial, payasam, and more, served on banana leaves.

The feast reflects the culinary diversity of Kerala and can include up to 100 different dishes.

Recipes can be found in traditional Kerala cookbooks, online cooking blogs, or through video tutorials on platforms.

Q3. How Can I Introduce Onam to My Children or Friends Who Are Not Familiar with the Festival?

  1. Introducing Onam to children or friends can be a joyful experience by sharing stories of King Mahabali, engaging in activities like flower rangoli (Pookkalam), and preparing traditional dishes together.

You can also dress in traditional attire and watch cultural performances online or attend local Onam celebrations if available.

Educational books, videos, and interactive games can also make learning about Onam fun and accessible.

Q4. How Can I Participate in Onam Celebrations if I’m Living Outside Kerala?

  1. Even outside Kerala, Onam can be celebrated by connecting with local Malayali associations or cultural groups that may organise community feasts and events.

You can also create your own Onam experience at home by decorating with Pookkalam, preparing Ona-Sadya, and dressing in traditional attire.

Online platforms and social media groups may provide information about virtual celebrations and ways to connect with fellow Malayalis in your area.

Q5.  What are Some Ethical and Sustainable Ways to Celebrate Onam?

  1. Celebrating Onam sustainably can include using locally sourced and seasonal flowers for Pookkalam, serving Ona-Sadya on reusable banana leaves or eco-friendly plates, and choosing organic and local ingredients for cooking.

You can also embrace traditional practices that are inherently sustainable, like community sharing and reducing waste.

Engaging in cultural preservation activities, such as supporting local artisans and musicians, can also contribute to an ethical celebration.


Onam is a vibrant and culturally significant festival celebrated in the southern Indian state of Kerala and it is all about embracing tradition, culture, and the spirit of harvest

It is a time of joy, unity, and reverence for the bountiful harvest season.

With its epic tales, fascinating history, grand celebrations, and rich cultural significance, Onam holds a special place in the hearts of Keralites.

In this article, we will delve into the fascinating aspects of Onam, exploring its legends, traditions, festivities, and the warmth it brings to the hearts of all who celebrate.

When is Onam being celebrated in ?

Onam will be celebrated from Sunday, 20 August,  – Thursday, 31 August, .

Mythological Origins and the Legend of King Mahabali

Onam is rooted in mythology, tracing its origins to the tale of King Mahabali, a legendary ruler of ancient Kerala. According to mythology, King Mahabali was a virtuous and beloved ruler who brought prosperity and happiness to his people.

The festival is believed to commemorate his annual return to Kerala during the harvest season, symbolising a time of abundance and fulfilment.

The Ten-Day Celebration

Onam is a ten-day celebration, known as the “Onam Week,” filled with vibrant festivities, cultural performances, and traditional rituals.

Each day of the festival holds a unique significance and is marked by various customs and activities that showcase the rich heritage of Kerala.

Pookalam: The Floral Art

One of the most iconic and visually stunning aspects of Onam is the creation of Pookalams.

These are intricate and colourful flower carpets made with a wide variety of flowers arranged in beautiful patterns.

Families and communities come together to create these elaborate floral designs in front of their homes as a symbol of welcome and prosperity.

Vallam Kali: The Boat Race

Onam is famous for the thrilling boat races, known as Vallam Kali, that take place in Kerala’s backwaters.

Snake boats, also called Chundan Vallams, adorned with colourful flags, race across the water, accompanied by the energetic rhythms of traditional music.

The boat races are a spectacle that attracts visitors from around the world, highlighting the spirit of unity, teamwork, and competitive sportsmanship.

Traditional Dance Forms

Onam celebrations are incomplete without the vibrant and graceful traditional dance forms of Kerala.

The Kathakali dance-drama, with its elaborate makeup, costumes, and expressive gestures, captivates audiences with mythological stories and folklore.

Other traditional dances, such as Mohiniyattam and Thiruvathirakali, also form an integral part of the cultural performances during Onam.

Onasadya: The Grand Feast

Onam is synonymous with the sumptuous and elaborate feast called Onasadya.

Served on banana leaves, the feast consists of a wide array of vegetarian dishes, including rice, curries, pickles, and desserts.

It is a culinary delight that brings families and communities together, fostering a sense of togetherness, sharing, and hospitality.

Onakkodi: New Clothes and Gift Exchange

Onam is a time for new beginnings and joyous celebrations. One of the customs during the festival is the tradition of buying new clothes, known as Onakkodi, to mark the occasion.

Family members exchange gifts as a token of love and appreciation, adding to the festive spirit and strengthening the bonds of relationships.

Onam and the Harvest Season

Onam celebrates the bountiful harvest season, paying homage to the agrarian roots of Kerala.

It is a time to express gratitude to nature and the farmers who toil tirelessly to bring forth the harvest.

Various rituals and customs during Onam honour the agricultural heritage of Kerala and highlight the significance of sustainable living in harmony with nature.

Things To Remember

Onam is a celebration that embodies the essence of Kerala’s rich culture, traditions, and values.

With its mythological origins, captivating legends, grand festivities, and culinary delights, Onam is a time of joy, unity, and gratitude.

It brings together people from all walks of life to celebrate the harvest season, express love and respect for their heritage, and create lasting memories with their loved ones.

As Onam approaches, let us embrace the spirit of this beautiful festival, immersing ourselves in the vibrant colours, mesmerising dance performances, exhilarating boat races, and mouthwatering feasts.

May Onam serve as a reminder to appreciate the abundance in our lives, nurture our relationships, and cultivate a deep sense of gratitude for the blessings that surround us.

Let the warmth, cultural significance, and joy of Onam fill our hearts and inspire us to spread love, unity, and compassion in our communities.

On this auspicious occasion, let us come together to celebrate the spirit of Onam and cherish the beauty of Kerala’s rich cultural heritage.


Onam, the vibrant and captivating festival celebrated with great fervor in the southern Indian state of Kerala, holds a special place in the hearts of its people.

Onam commences on August 20, with Atham and will conclude with Thiruvonam.

Thiruvonam marks the end of the Onam celebration, on Thursday, August 31, . 

This joyous occasion, often referred to as the “harvest festival of Kerala,” brings together friends, families, and communities to commemorate a tale of mythological significance.

In this blog, we delve into Onam’s captivating story, historical context, and mythological relevance.

Additionally, we explore how you can embrace the spirit of Onam and celebrate it in your own home.

  • The Legend of Onam:

The origins of Onam can be traced back to an ancient legend centered around the virtuous King Mahabali.

According to Hindu mythology, Mahabali was a benevolent ruler who ruled over Kerala during a golden age.

 His reign was characterized by peace, prosperity, and harmony among all beings.

However, the gods grew jealous of Mahabali’s popularity and devised a plan to end his reign.

Lord Vishnu, taking the form of Vamana (a dwarf Brahmin), approached the king and requested a small parcel of land for meditation.

Mahabali, known for his generosity, granted the request without hesitation.

To everyone’s astonishment, Vamana grew in size and covered the entire earth with one step and the heavens with the second. With no space left for the third step, Mahabali, recognizing Vamana’s true divine nature, humbly offered his head as a place for Vamana’s foot. Impressed by Mahabali’s selflessness, Vamana granted him a boon, allowing him to visit his beloved subjects once a year.

This visit is celebrated as Onam, a grand homecoming of the virtuous king.

  • Historical and Cultural Significance:

Onam is not only steeped in mythology but also holds immense historical and cultural importance.

The festival has its roots in agrarian traditions, where it serves as a tribute to the bountiful harvest season.

It symbolizes gratitude towards Mother Nature for her generosity and the abundance she provides.

During Onam, Kerala adorns itself with vibrant decorations, with homes adorned with intricate floral designs known as “pookalam.”

These beautiful patterns are created using various flowers, arranged in intricate designs, adding to the festive atmosphere.

The state also resonates with the rhythmic beats of traditional folk dances, such as Kathakali, Pulikali, and Thumbi Thullal.

  • Pujas and Celebrations:

Onam celebrations are marked by a series of rituals and festivities. The most prominent ritual is the grand Onam feast, known as the “Onam Sadya.”

It is a lavish vegetarian meal served on banana leaves, comprising a delectable assortment of traditional dishes.

Each dish holds a unique place in the culinary heritage of Kerala and is prepared with great care and love.

Additionally, the traditional boat race known as “Vallam Kali” is a major highlight of the festivities.

It features beautifully decorated longboats manned by rowers who compete against each other with great zeal and enthusiasm.

  • Celebrating Onam at home:

While Onam is primarily celebrated in Kerala, its spirit of harmony, gratitude, and unity can be embraced and celebrated by people from all regions.

You can create your mini Onam celebration in your home by incorporating certain elements of the festival:

  • Onam Sadya: Prepare a traditional Kerala-style vegetarian feast, incorporating dishes like avial, olan, and payasam. Serve the meal on banana leaves for an authentic experience.
  • Floral Decorations: Create a pookalam-inspired floral arrangement using flowers readily available in your region.

Use vibrant colors and intricate patterns to infuse the space with the essence of Onam.

  • Cultural Immersion: Watch traditional Kerala dance performances online or participate in folk dances like dandiya or garba, symbolizing unity and joy.
  • Exchange Gifts: Onam is a time for sharing love and joy.

Exchange small gifts with your loved ones as a gesture of goodwill.

With its rich mythological origins and cultural significance, Onam is a festival that captures the essence of harmony, abundance, and togetherness.

Just like the joyous festival of Onam, Prabhu Shriram India’s Best Agarbatti and Dhoop encapsulates the essence of India’s rich culture and heritage through their diverse range of unique fragrances.

With every aromatic blend, they transport you to a world where the captivating scents intertwine with our traditions, allowing us to experience the timeless beauty of India’s cultural tapestry.

Whether you are a resident of Kerala or Not, curious to partake in the celebrations, Onam offers an opportunity to connect with the spirit of this joyous festival.

Embrace the traditions, imbibe the values, and rejoice in the festivities, as Onam brings joy, unity, and a sense of gratitude to all who partake in its grandeur.

Spiritual significance of Onam

According to mythology, King Mahabali was the greatest king of Kerala and it was during his reign that the local people saw the best of times; prosperity and grandeur ruled everywhere.

To end Mahabali’s rule on earth, Lord Vishnu emerged as a Vaman (short Brahmin) and tricked the King to give him whatever land he had.

hereby, King Mahabali was sent to a lower world; but Vishnu also granted him a boon that he could visit his land once every year.

Onam celebrates this home-coming of the King.

Rituals of Onam

Onam is the rice harvest festival of Kerala.

All the ten days of celebration of Onam has its own significance.

The characteristic floral designs known as ‘pookkalam’ are symbolic of this festival.

Usually women members of the house make different types of patterns on the ground with flowers and lit lamps to invite King Mahabali to their house.

 People gift and wear new clothes known as ‘Onakkodi’.

Grand feasts are prepared on this occasion.

This is known as ‘onam sadya’. Usually around 13 dishes are prepared for this.

The food is served on banana leaves and commonly consists of rice along with different dishes, pickles and papads.

A characteristic sweet dish called ‘payasam’ is a must during Onam. It is made of rice, milk, sugar and coconut.

Vallamkali or boat race, especially of Snake boats, is an event associated with Onam and is a grand event in Kerala these days. Huge snake shaped boats rowed by hundreds of oarsmen compete with each other.

Huge amounts of cash rewards are distributed as prizes for the winners.

Elephants decorated with ornaments are characteristic of Onam processions.

Thrikkakara appan (Onathappan) or Vaman Vishnu idols are installed at homes for worship.

Different types of cultural activities mark the celebration of Onam which include the traditional Kathakali dance, music, art and cuisine.

Special dancers painted in yellow and black resembling tigers are seen commonly during Onam performing Pulikali dance.

This time of the year is declared as the Tourism week in Kerala as this is the best time to visit the state.

Onam is of special importance as it unites people of all religions residing in the state.

It spreads the message of unity and peace in society.

Onam Festival Kerala: All You Need to Know about Onam Celebration

Onam is one of those festivals where you can feel the excitement in the air of Kerala for 10 days.

This official new year of Malayali Hindus marks the beginning of Chingam, the first month of the year according to Malayalam calendar and August and September according to Gregorian calendar.

During this one of the most important festivals in south India, the celebration in Kerala is at its peaks as it is believed that famed King Mahabali pays a visit to his kingdom.

The grand celebration of Onam attracts the attention of various tourists because of which, Kerala tourism sees a significant boom during the festival.

I think the best way to know about Onam when you cannot witness it in person, is to read about it and I would love to have you join me on this reading venture.

Onam Festival Date  – 30 August to 8 September

Special Highlights of Kerala Onam Festival

  • Relish 26 traditional delicacies in Kerala.
  • Witness the exciting snake boat racing
  • Enjoy unique body paint competition/procession, Pulikali

So, come along and add another chapter to your book of

Quick Info Table Guide on Onam Festival in Kerala

Onam Festival  Dates        August 30 to September 8

Onam Festival 10 Days Names  Atham, Chithira, Chodi, Vishakam, Anizham, Thriketta, Moolam, Pooradam, Uthradam or First Onam, Thiruvonam Onam, Avittom or Third Onam, Chatayam or Fourth Onam

Third Onam Date      September 9

Fourth Onam Date    September 10

Main day of the festival      Thiruvonam Onam (September 8)

Parts of the celebration      Rangoli or Pookalam Thumbi Thullal, Pulikali, Vallamkali, Athachamayam, Thiruvathirakali, Kummattikali, Kathakali,

When tourists can watch the tiger dance?   Fourth Day of Onam

When tourists can watch the snake boat race?   Fifth Day of Onam

When tourists can watch the carnivals?      Sixth Day of Onam

Best Places to Visit during the Onam in Kerala    Thrikkakara Temple, Trivandrum, Aranmula, Alleppey, Thrissur

According to the Hindu mythology, Onam is celebrated to mark the visit of King Mahabali who was believed to be very kind towards his people, and thus, was loved by all.

The time during his reign is considered as the best time for Kerala.

It was during his reign only where the state prospered.

The celebration takes place during the first month of the year according to Malayalam Calendar.

The story of Onam

Onam marks King Mahabali’s visit to his people.

This 10-day festival is a joyous time for all Malayalees, who welcome their king on this day.

Onam is also known as a harvest festival.

Aesthetically laid out flower designs in front of the house with a variety of colourful flowers (pookalam) evoke a sense of plentitude and prosperity, which Onam represents.

Not to speak of women adorned with gold ornaments and new clothes.

Every bit of the Onam celebration is a nostalgic reminder of the bygone glory of the past.

The sumptuous sadya (an elaborate feast)is followed by kaikottikali ( a graceful dance), Tumbi tullal and other folk performances like kummatikali and Puli Kali.

Onam commemorates the homecoming of the great asura King Maha Bali from Patala Loka.

Maha Bali, the grandson of Prahalada, was a strong and learned king who respected knowledge. Once, Maha Bali was performing a yagna, when a short, young, radiant boy entered the yagna shala. Maha Bali, as was the custom, welcomed this radiant youngster and asked him what he wanted.

The young boy requested for that much space, as could be measured by three footsteps of his.

Maha Bali agreed at once to the chagrin of his Guru Shukracharya who cautioned him that the guest was none other than Lord Vishnu Himself.

As the legend goes, no sooner were the three footsteps granted, the young Vamana assumed a gigantic form known as Trivikrama and with the first step of his foot, measured the whole earth.

Then with the second step of his foot, he measured the whole sky.

These two steps covered the whole of Mahabali’s kingdom, the earth and the sky.

Vamana then asked the king as to where he should place his third step.

King Maha Bali the grandson of the greatest of the Lord’s devotees, Prahlada joyfully offered his head for the third step in utter devotion and surrender.

The Lord recognizing his attitude of surrender blessed him and sent him to Pathala with a promise of making him Indra in the next Manvanthara and that He Himself would guard the gates of Pathala.

Acceding to the request of Maha Bali’s people, Vishnu granted Maha Bali permission to return to his kingdom from Pathala, once every year, to be in the midst of his people.

This day is celebrated as the Onam festival.

A deeper meaning

This legend of the Vamana avatar is Puranic, i.e. an expression of a deeper truth, a moral lesson from historical or scientific incidents, veiled in a story. Maha Bali was a great asura king.

He was arrogant because he owned all the expanse that he could see on land and was considered invincible.

Knowledge and humility help one transcend the ego which can grow as huge as this earth and sky.

Just like Vamana, ego can be conquered in three simple steps.

Step 1: Measure the earth – Look around and be humbled by the sheer number of other living beings like you on this earth.

Step 2: Measure the skies – Look up into the sky and be humbled by the sheer vastness and the multitude of other worlds in the cosmos and how insignificantly small we are in this cosmos.

Step 3: Place your hand on your head – Realize that in the cycle of births and deaths not only of living beings but the cosmos itself, the time span of each of our lives is very small and the role we play in the larger picture of the order of the cosmos, is even smaller.

The significance of the Shravan month

Onam is the shortened form of Thiruvonam or Shravanam, since this festival occurs in the Shravan month under the Shravana star in the Indian calendar.

Shravan is the month in the Indian calendar that typically falls between July-August in the North and between August-September in the South.

This month is called Shravan since the full moon during this month occurs against the Shravana star.

The 3 footprints in the sky

The star Shravana is the set of stars known in western astronomy as Altair, the bright star in the Aquila constellation along with Beta and Gamma Aquilae that flank it on either side.

These three stars are pictured as the three footprints of Vamana in his gigantic Trivikrama form.

One may wonder what does the legend of Maha Bali and Vamana, have to do with the name Shravana for this star? The word Shravana means to listen, to pay heed to.

The three stars which depict the outcome of Maha Bali’s disobedience stand as a constant reminder in the sky to caution people to listen and pay heed to good counsel.

Our Sadhya kit includes :

  • ONION: 90g
  • POTATO: 120g
  • CARROT (AUS): 500g
  • YAM / SURAN: 500g
  • BEANS FRENCH: 250g
  • LADIES’ FINGER: 100g
  • CABBAGE: 500g
  • TINDLY INDIA: 150g
  • SMALL ONION: 150g
  • TARO / ARVI (CHINA): 70g
  • DRUMSTICK: 210g
  • SNAKE GOURD: 150g
  • Banana Rasakadali: 220g
  • Banana Leaves: 2Pcs
  • Curry Leaves: 1Pcs
  • Kerala pappadam medium: 1Pcs
  • Curd Chilli – 1Pkt
  • Jaggery Cubes – 1Pkt.
  • Rice Ada – 1Pkt
  • Jaggery Chips – 1Pkt.

Onam Pookalam Mix Loose Flower

it Contains(NET WEIGHT) :

  • Yellow Marigold: 250g 
  • Orange Marigold: 250g 
  • Yellow Rose: 100g 
  • Red Rose: 100g 
  • Arali: 50g
  • Yellow Chamanthi: 120g 
  • White Chamanthi: 100g 
  • Vadamali : 80g

Onam Festival : History

According to Hindu mythology, although King Mahabali was a demon king and still, he won the hearts of Kerala’s people through his kindness and love.  

Many historical scriptures narrate that Kerala flourished to prosperity and dominance during his reign.

The people of some states even believe that Mahabali’s rule overpowered Gods, creating uneasiness among them.

To overcome it, the gods plead to Lord Vishnu for help.

Lord Vishnu, who was the favourite of Mahabali, took the form of Vamana, a dwarf, to subdue the king and was forced to leave his reign. 

Despite this, Lord Vishnu gave him a boon to return to his land and people every year, and on this occasion, the Kerala people celebrate the Onam festival.

Onam festival dates and celebration

Onam is a festival that lasts for 10 days, and the last day of the festival is called Thiruvonam. falls between August 29 at 2.43 am and August 30 at 11. 50 pm this year.

Here is the list of days and celebrations:

Day 1 – Atham

On this day, people visit temples in the morning, and people believe that King Mahabali begins his preparation to leave Pathala for Kerala.

Day 2 – Chithira

On this day, people clean their houses and decorate their houses with Pookalam’s design.

Day 3  – Chodhi

After adding a few more layers to Pookalam, people buy new clothes and Jewellery for themselves and for gifting purposes.

Day 4 – Vishakam

This is the most auspicious day when preparation for Sadhya begins, and each member of the family contributes to the dishes.

Day 5 – Anizham 

Preparation for the grand boat race begins on this day.

Day 6 – Thriketa

On day 6, people visit ancestral houses to exchange gifts with their loved ones, and the Pookalam grows with multi-layers of flowers added to it.

Day 7 – Moolam

People perform Puli Kali (a dance form with a leopard mask) and other traditional dance forms such as Kaikotti Kali.

Day  8 – Pooradam

The Pookalam grows more prominent with more layers on this day, and people placed the statues of Mahabali and Vamana in the centre of Pookalam.

Day 9 – Uthradam

People buy fresh fruits and vegetables with many other things to be used on Thriruvonam.

Day 10 – Thiruvonam

On the last and final day of the Onam festival, people apply the batter of rice and flour at the entrance of their home, which is a traditional welcome design in South Indian culture.


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.

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.

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.

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.


Onam is the biggest festival of the year in Kerala.

The purpose of the festival is to commemorate the mythical King Mahabali, celebrate the end of the monsoon season, and welcome the harvest.

This is a great festival to experience in India as it is full of happiness, excitement, and enjoyment by people of all ages.

Onam is celebrated over 10 days during Kerala’s month of Chingam. During the festival, people will hold grand processions, boat races, and traditional folk dances such as Thiruvathira, Kathakali, and Pulikali the tiger dance.

The Onam Sadya, a feast consisting of nine or more vegetarian dishes served on a banana leaf, is also an indispensable part of the festival.

Our Sadhya kit includes :

  • ONION: 90g
  • POTATO: 120g
  • CARROT (AUS): 500g
  • YAM / SURAN: 500g
  • BEANS FRENCH: 250g
  • LADIES’ FINGER: 100g
  • CABBAGE: 500g
  • TINDLY INDIA: 150g
  • SMALL ONION: 150g
  • TARO / ARVI (CHINA): 70g
  • DRUMSTICK: 210g
  • SNAKE GOURD: 150g
  • Banana Rasakadali: 220g
  • Banana Leaves: 2Pcs
  • Curry Leaves: 1Pcs
  • Kerala pappadam medium: 1Pcs
  • Curd Chilli – 1Pkt
  • Jaggery Cubes – 1Pkt.
  • Rice Ada – 1Pkt
  • Jaggery Chips – 1Pkt.


  • Onam is a 10-day festival that occurs at the beginning of the month of Chingam which usually falls between August and September.
  • Onam celebrates the homecoming of King Mahabali, the mythical ruler of ancient Kerala.
  • The Tripunithura Athachamayam Festival is held on the first day of Onam and features a street parade with various traditional art including music, dance, carnival floats, and decorated elephants.
  • Families will make floral decorations called pookkalam that are placed on the ground in front of their houses to welcome King Mahabali.
  • The main food eaten during the celebration is the Onam Sadhya, a vegetarian meal comprising of many traditional dishes served on a banana leaf.

Onam Festival

Onam is one of the most popular festivals of Kerala and the official holiday of the state. 

This holiday lasts for 10 days and celebrated between August and September to mark the end of the monsoon and to welcome the harvest season.

The festival also celebrates the homecoming of King Mahabali, the mythical ruler of ancient Kerala who is believed to be the 5th avatar of the god Vishnu.

During the holiday, major celebrations take place across 30 streets in Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala. 

Both Hindu and non-Hindu communities participate in the Onam celebrations as it is considered to be more of a cultural festival than a religious one.

During these 10 days, there are processions, rituals, and performances being held all over the state.

One main highlights of the festival is the pookkalam which is an intricate design made from flowers that is placed on the ground in front of homes to welcome King Mahabali.

During the festival, locals organize colorful parades that showcase elements of Keralan culture through detailed floats and statues.

Other holiday traditions include donating to charity, buying new clothes and jewelry, exchanging gifts, visiting relatives, and spending time with family during Onam feasts.

Men and women also wear traditional clothes including Keralan saris and Mundus on this day.

The main food eaten during the celebration is the Onam Sadhya, a nine-course meal that traditionally includes several vegetarian dishes served on a banana leaf.

The number of dishes included in the feast can reach up to 30.

When is Onam Festival?

Onam occurs at the beginning of the month of Chingam, the first month of the Malayalam calendar. 

This usually falls between August and September.

 The festivities of Onam last for 10 days in which the old and young participate with equal enthusiasm.

Upcoming Onam dates:

  • Omam: September 5th to 17th

How is Onam Festival Celebrated?

Onam is celebrated in many ways over its 10 days of festivities including with prayers, cultural programs, boat races, dance performances, and the creation of floral designs called pookkalam. Families often participate in activities together and perform specific rituals.

Here are the main festival traditions for each day of Onam:

Day 1 -Atham

On Atham, Keralites will take an early bath, perform prayers, and begin creating their pookkalam or floral decorations placed on the ground in front of homes to welcome the king.

Men gather the flowers and the women will use them to make the designs.

On this day, the pookkalam is often small in size and known as an Athapoo.

The design is be very simple on the first day and only yellow flowers can be used.

The size will keep increasing and the design will become more complex each day until the end of the festival.

The Tripunithura Athachamayam Festival is also held on this day in Tripunithura which is a historic area of Kochi.

This celebration includes a street parade that showcases various traditional Keralan art forms such as music, dance, carnival floats, and decorated elephants.

The parade floats traditionally feature scenes from Hindu epics such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana.

The procession path is normally from Tripunithura to the Vamanamoorthy Temple in Thrikkakara.

When the parade passes the temple, the festivities stop and everyone pauses to offer a prayer.

Families typically start the creation of their pookkalam designs on the first day by making simple shapes with flower petals on the floor in front of their homes.

The design will be added to each day of the festival until it becomes an intricate and beautiful piece of art.

Day 2 – Chithira

On the second day, two more layers of orange and yellow flowers are added to the pookkalam.

People will also clean their houses and visit temples.

Traditionally, pookkalams are created using the ten sacred flowers of Kerala, but today a wide variety of flowers are used.

Earthen mounds, representing King Mahabli are palaced in courtyards of homes and public spaces along with the pookkalam designs. People will also clean their houses and visit temples on this day.

Day 3 – Chodhi

On Chodhi, another layer of flowers is added to the pookkalam and families will start buying new clothes and jewelry for each other.

The markets will be crowded with people as they are busy completing their Onam shopping.

On this day, the women will wear a Kasavu Sari, a traditional Keralan dress, while the men will purchase a mundu, a garment worn around the waist.

Young girls wear Pattu Pavadai, the traditional clothing that distinguishes young girls from married women.

Day 4 – Vishakam

Vishakam marks the beginning of the main festival feast known as Onam Sadhya.

Onam Sadhya is a nine-course meal that comprises of 11 to 13 traditional dishes served on a banana leaf.

The number of dishes can go up to 26 or 30 in different families.

The markets will often hold their harvest sales during this period to attract customers which makes them some of Kerala’s busiest places during the festival.

Day 5 – Anizham

On this day, the traditional snake boat race known as Vallamkali is held.

The Vallamkali races take place on the sacred Pampa River and involve a grand parade.

People come all over Kerala come to watch the races and cheer for their team.

Well-known races include the Aranmula Uthrattathi Boat Race and Nehru Trophy Boat Race.

Day 6 – Thriketa

On the sixth day, people who have migrated to other regions will return to visit their ancestral homes to celebrate with their loved ones. They will also exchange gifts with one another.

Fresh flowers are also added to the pookkalam.

Day 7 – Moolam

On Moolam, families will visit each other and prepare a smaller version of the Sadya.

Hindu temples will also start serving the Onasadya, a religious vegan meal.

Various traditional dance performances such as the Puli Kali take place.

Day 8 – Pooradam

On the sixth day, people who have migrated to other regions will return to visit their ancestral homes to celebrate with their loved ones. They will also exchange gifts with one another.

Fresh flowers are also added to the pookkalam.

Day 9 – Uthradam

This the day of the festival is when the Onam preparations reach their peak. According to the legends, King Mahabali arrives in Kerala on this day.

The day is celebrated by the cleaning of houses and participating in final Onam shopping.

Day 10 – Thiruvonam

Thiruvonam is the final day of the festival when rice flour batter is applied to the entrances of homes as a traditional welcome sign. People also wear their new clothes and make donations to the poor and needy.

The evening is celebrated with bright lights and fireworks. In some parts of Kerala, people will perform folk music and dances as well.

Where to Celebrate Onam Festival?

Although Onam is celebrated throughout Kerala, some cities have more festive celebrations than others.

Here are some of the best places to experience Onam.


Trivandrum is one of the cities in Kerala to enjoy the celebration of Onam. The city is beautifully lit and decorated throughout the whole festival.

Here you can go for a walk in the evening and be mesmerized by the lights that decorate the buildings, trees, and streets.


During the celebration of Onam, a special kind of event called Onathallu takes place in Palakkad. Onathallu is a type of wrestling that is practiced in central Kerala.

Here, two contestants will grapple each other and exchange blows. Whoever can toss down their opponent wins the game.


Ernakulam is also a great place to visit during Onam. Located near Ernakulam is the Thrippunithura district which is where the popular Athachamayam Festival is held.

This festival features a street parade with decorated elephants and floats, musicians, and various traditional Keralan art.

How Can You Celebrate Onam Festival as a Traveler?

Traditional dances are a huge part of Onam. Travelers can witness many kinds of dances being performed such as Thiruvathirakali, a popular dance performed by women around a standing lamp, and Kummattikali, a dance with heavily painted colorful masks.

Visitors can also participate in the Onam Sadhya which is available at temples, community centers, and certain hotels.

The Sadhya is a vegetarian feast where the dishes are all served on a banana leaf.

Onam History

There are many interesting legends associated with the origin & history of Onam.

Well, in this article, we will brief you on the Onam festival story.

When it comes to the Onam festivity celebration, though the entire nation gets involved, but the Nambudiri Brahmins of Kerala especially take an interest in all the activities, as they connect the origin of Onam with their own community.

Story of King Mahabali
King Mahabali is one of the most renowned kings of Kerala, who is believed to have made the people experience the best period of their lives.

Therefore, the term of his tenure is referred to as the golden era. The king was loved by his people and the Gods could not see that happen.

As a result, the king was sent to the nether world.

However, the king requested the deities to allow him to visit his people once in a year.

People are of the belief that every year, the spirit of king Mahabali visits the people of Kerala on the Onam festival.

Story of Boat Palliodam
Once it happened that, a boat that was fully loaded with food, got stuck in the middle of the river.

Then, a wise man, by the name Bhattathiripad, came forward and fed a poor family that resided on the banks of the river.

The boat then moved forward.

From this incident, the people began the tradition of feeding a poor and needy family on the Onam festive occasion.

What is Onam?

Onam is a harvest festival in Kerala. Here’s the story behind it.

Story of King Mahabali and Vamana Avatar

Once upon a time, the demon king Mahabali ruled Kerala.

He was a wise and fair king.

Mahabali worshipped Lord Vishnu.

His power extended to Patala, the netherworld and the heavens.

The gods grew jealous of Mahabali.

They asked Lord Vishnu for help.

Lord Vishnu took the avatar of a Vamana, a brahmin dwarf. He approached Mahabali for alms.

He only wanted the land that he could cover in three steps.

Mahabali agreed.

The Vamana began to grow in size.

With one step, he covered the sky.

With his second step, Lord Vishnu covered the netherworld.

Mahabali realised that Lord Vishnu’s third step would destroy the earth.

So, he offered his head for Lord Vishnu’s last step.

When Lord Vishnu placed his foot on Maha Bali’s head, it pushed him to the netherworld.

Before taking the third step though, Lord Vishnu granted Mahabali a boon.