Think of Onam and Malayalis will experience the refreshing burst of colours, beautiful flowers and enticing flavours of the traditional feast, Onasadya, pops into one’s mind. The elegantly carved snake boats enchant audiences through the spectacular race known as the Vallamkali, which is rowed by around 100 oarsmen in a competitive spirit to win the race. It is a grand spectacle and one that also brings many tourists to the state during the festive season. There are many fun-filled activities organised during Onam, some of which include cultural activities such as pookalam (floral carpet) competitions, music and dance competitions and even payasam (traditional Kerala kheer) contests. All these activities ring in the traditional flavor and fervour to Onam celebrations.
This is the magical season that Malayalis across the world celebrate in a spirit of togetherness – with floral carpets they make with their creative outpouring for the ten-day festival, the home made items that are kept ready as part of the preparation for the big feast that culminates on the most important day of Thiruvonam and the little cultural delights that pave the way for the festive occasion to kick off with aplomb.
Little things make this a different festival from all other festivals that you may have taken part in earlier. For instance, the simplicity of this festival and how it is interwoven with Nature makes it a harvest festival that the nation can look up to with pride.
Bringing together all the elements of Nature and the way it is interlinked with our daily life, this festival tosses out even the notions of judging ‘good’ and ‘bad’ by blending in everything as part of its celebration – the very fact that it is a festival to honour and welcome an Asura King called Mahabali, banished by the Vamana avatar of Lord Vishnu, is testimony to how the festival is received with a spirit of openness, acceptance and togetherness of the Malayali community, where the Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jews and others have been a part of the state’s socio-cultural fabric for as long as one can remember.