Onam. A revered festival of harvest in Kerala, a rejoicing of the homecoming of the mythical demon King Mahabali.
A celebration so special and dear to God’s own land; the 10 joyous days are astoundingly infectious across the country, beyond Kerala, and even overseas.
Think Onam, and visions of yellow and orange gendas, delicately lit diyas and the delicious Onam Sadhya fill the senses. However, those few who understand the relevance and have experienced the authentic festivities associated with the 10-day long period know that Onam is very much more!
A real-life Onam experience is a definite yes to any travellers’ bucket list (a huge shout-out to cultural enthusiasts and photographers who revel in the richness of local cultures and their people).
Kerala Tourism is geared up
After two years of keeping Onam low-key owing to the pandemic, Kerala Tourism is geared up to bring alive the vibrant festivities to the streets and homes of Kerala with carnivals, arts and artforms and a showcase of the rich and ancient traditions associated with the festival.
Inviting tourists and those who would like to witness and partake in the celebrations, Sri Rupesh Kumar, Responsible Tourism Mission Coordinator, Government of Kerala says, “The Responsible Tourism Mission is providing an opportunity for tourists to be a part of Onam celebrations in villages too. There is also an opportunity to have Onam Sadya in the local homes. Kerala Tourism is organizing a wide range of Onam celebration programs in all the district centres. Onam procession will be resumed as a grand celebration in Thiruvananthapuram and the champions boat league was announced by Hon’ble Tourism Minister P.A. Muhammad Riaz.”
History and culture of Pulikai
Larger than life, Onam’s ancient traditions reflect in every street and corner of Kerala beginning with the creation of Pookalam on Atham, the first day. Each passing day fills the air with brimming enthusiasm, a riot of colours, Pookamal face-offs, dances, local dramas and music.
The spectacular grandeur, glorious history and culture of Pulikai are undoubtedly the top reasons why you should consider visiting Kerala during Onam.
Puli kali dances where people paint their bodies in yellow and white stripes and perform the ancient tiger dance on the fourth day of Onam is a photographer’s delight and joy to watch.
Athachamayam – The Grand Cultural Fiesta
We said grand and we stick to it! Athachamayam indeed is a grand fiesta of culture and traditional art forms! This event kicks off the 10-day-long Onam festivities.
The cultural event offers the incredible opportunity to witness the allure of various folk art forms of Kerala. You can become part of the gigantic street parade, starting from the town of Tripunithura and continuing to the Thrikkakara Temple. During the colourful procession, you will be mesmerised by the sight of beautifully adorned elephants walking with all their might.
The 400-year-old traditional snake boat race that marks day five has long claimed a space on the world map of exotic photo-ops and culture fests! Then comes the day of Carnival on Day 6, of many cultural gatherings of creative and performing arts from across the social, cultural and political fabric of Kerala.
The Onam Sadhya – a culinary gala feast
Culminating in exchanges of produce from the farms and gifts, the Onam Sadhya, a culinary gala featuring over 25 traditional dishes seals the festivities with wishes for a new cycle of harvest.
Where can you eat Onam Sadhya?
The well-known eatery – East Indies- for sure and definitely do a meal at History, Brunton Boatyard – the absolutely delish menu here includes 32 cuisines from all communities who’ve made Kochi their home! Kerala food is best tasted here.
There is no other way than immersing oneself in the celebrations to truly revel in the exoticism and joyfulness of Onam.
A favourite place to enjoy Onam festivities? Kochi
Where can you stay for an authentic Onam holiday and easy access to celebrations? Among Kerala destinations, Eighth Bastion and Brunton Boatyard in Fort Kochi are worth a try. Don’t miss the Pookamal creations (you can even try your hand at it) and the age-old customary local games that are played in the properties during this time.
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