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Onam Festival, Kerala

The fields are shrouded with golden colour of ripen seeds dancing to the rhythm of villagers, singing merry in their glee.............

OnamThe long snake like boats are ready to lacerate against the green water of the lagoon and the women draped in the white sarees are dressing the 'rangoli'. The army of half dressed men head for the incessant drum beating in the field lined with caprisioned elephants. Onam is laden with the absolute festive spirit that charges the atmosphere with the undying zing of colour and culture.

The whole of southern India engages in the call of celebration. It's Onam or Thiruonam time. A festival of ten days, Onam is a harvest festival celebrated in the South India, especially Kerala with lots of pomp and gaiety. A spirit full effervescent festival, Onam is a all about peals of laughter, dances, songs and sumptuous recipes and boat races.

The Legend
It goes like this ......
Long ago there was a king called King Mahabali who ruled Kerala. The king sacrificed his human pride and showed true devotion towards God 'Vishnu'. Onam is an annual tribute and welcome to the king who stood as the testimony to the right way of living life.

The Festive Specks
Onam brings with itself joy and glee that is showcased in the celebration of the festival. A ten days festival, Onam commences on the Atham day where the earthen mounds are decorated on dung plastered court yard to evoke Mahabali and Vishnu. Beautiful women titivate their house gates with "Onapookalam'-a flower carpet of gathered blossoms- to welcome the subjugated erstwhile king. The flower carpet is then complemented by a miniature festooned pandal hung over the flower carpet. Varied traditional rituals are carried out followed up by grand feasted called 'Sadhya'. Old and young are spotted making merry at the lavish feast. A get together and act of merriment, the feast is served with lip smacking home cooked delicacies and mouth watering desserts called as 'payasam'.

The gaiety and delight of Onam in people are manifested in several manifolds. Splendid parades of caparisoned elephants, fireworks and famous Kathakali dances are some of the glimpses of the mesmerizing festival. In addition, there are many more sports and cavalcade of events during Onam which attracts people from far away lands to rala. No wonder, the month of Onam every year is celebrated as tourism week in Kerala.

Boat Race
The conspicuous boat race on the green backwaters during Onam is the prime attraction of the festival. Known as 'Vallamkali' the spectacular boat race entices everyone during the carnival. The sight of oarsmen racing their bride like boats sporadically to the tune of drums and cymbals is quiet enticing. The boats or 'Chundans' are named after the named according the length of their hoods.

The boat race is not just about long snake hood boats but also miniature boats or 'Odis' - wooden planks crafted with gold tasseled silk umbrellas- that run against the force of the water just to stand as the winner. People in thousands gather on the bank to cheer for their show of muscle power and the mêlée of speed.

Onam FestivalThe Onam Day
On the tenth day of the festival or 'Onam' or 'Thiruonam' the whole of southern land is camouflaged with houses that look like brides. The houses are cleaned and adorned with traditional lamps of beautiful shapes and sizes. Sumptuous feast are prepared in all houses followed up by presenting gifts and clothes to the family member and relatives. The Onam evening is all the more beautiful and appeasing where girls perform 'Kaikottikkali' in the open court yard around the brass lamps. Also, the kathakali performers are dressed up vibrantly enacting the tales and lores of the village.

A grand festival and kaleidoscope colours hewn with culture and traditionality Onam is a festival for all where it depicts the uniformity and cheerfulness of everyone on and across the land....

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