Onam: The Grand Harvest Festival of Kerala

Onam Celebration Kerala

Onam is a popular harvest festival of Kerala. Every year, the state comes alive with vibrant colors, cheerful music, and aroma of traditional dishes during the grand celebration of festival. This article will let you know the vibrant celebration of Onam, exploring its significance, traditions, and the joyous spirit of this beautiful south India festival.


Onam is a ten-day extravaganza that celebrates the rich cultural heritage, unity, and prosperity of the state. With its colorful flower carpets, traditional performances, and sumptuous feasts, Onam creates an enchanting spectacle that captures the hearts of locals and visitors alike.

Onam: Harvest Festival of Kerala

The beauty of South Indian Festivals is they are mostly celebrated with nature. Onam is known as the “Harvest Festival of Kerala”. Onam is more than just a festival; it’s a reflection of Kerala’s cultural diversity and rich heritage. It’s a time when people come together to celebrate the spirit of unity and prosperity. Also Check: List of Harvest Festivals

Significance of Onam Festival

Onam marks the annual homecoming of the mythical King Mahabali, who is believed to visit his subjects during this time. It’s a festival that symbolizes the state’s agricultural abundance and cultural richness.

Ten Days of Onam Celebrations

  1. Atham: The festival kicks off with Atham, with the first day marked by the creation of floral designs known as pookalams.
  2. Chithira: Chithira continues the pookalam tradition, with more intricate designs taking shape.
  3. Chodhi: On Chodhi, more layers are added to the pookalams, creating complex and beautiful patterns.
  4. Vishakam: Vishakam sees the continuation of pookalam preparations, with communities and families coming together for the task.
  5. Anizham: Anizham is marked by the commencement of various cultural performances and traditional games.
  6. Thriketa: Thriketa continues the festive spirit with more pookalam designs and cultural events.
  7. Moolam: Moolam is dedicated to finalizing the pookalams and preparing for the grand feasts.
  8. Pooradam:The Pooradam day witnesses the decoration of the traditional swing, a common sight during Onam.
  9. Uthradom: Uthradom is a day of intense preparation, with families busy getting ready for the grand Thiruvonam feast.
  10. Thiruvonam: Thiruvonam is the pinnacle of Onam celebrations, marked by the grand feast, cultural performances, and joyous gatherings.

Pookalam: The Colorful Floral Carpet

The pookalam, or floral carpet, is the heart of Onam celebrations. Intricately designed using vibrant flowers, it is a visual treat that adorns the entrance of homes.

Traditional Onam Attire

Mundu and Kasavu Sari

During Onam, people don the traditional attire of mundu for men and kasavu saris for women, showcasing the state’s rich textile heritage.


Onakkodi, new clothes worn on the day of Thiruvonam, is a symbol of the festival’s essence and the joy of celebration.

Feasting During Onam

Onam Sadhya

The Onam Sadhya, a grand vegetarian feast, is a central part of the celebrations. Served on banana leaves, it includes a variety of dishes.

Avial, Payasam, and More

Avial, a delicious mixed vegetable curry, and an array of payasams (desserts) are some of the delectable dishes enjoyed during the feast.

Vibrant Cultural Performances

Kathakali and Theyyam

Kathakali, a traditional dance-drama, and Theyyam, a vibrant folk art form, take center stage during Onam.

Pulikali: The Tiger Dance

Pulikali, or the tiger dance, is a colorful and energetic performance where artists paint themselves as tigers and dance through the streets.

The Legend of King Mahabali

Onam is rooted in the story of King Mahabali, a ruler known for his generosity and humility. His annual visit symbolizes the spirit of inclusivity.

The Spirit of Unity and Harmony

Onam transcends religious and caste boundaries, bringing people together in a spirit of unity, harmony, and shared joy.

Modern-Day Onam Celebrations

Modern Onam celebrations embrace innovation while staying true to tradition. Technology enables global participation, making Onam a global event.


Onam is more than a festival; it’s a celebration of Kerala’s soul. It’s a time when traditions are upheld, cultural richness is shared, and the spirit of unity envelops the entire state in a joyful embrace.


What is the significance of the pookalam?

The pookalam, or floral carpet, is a symbol of welcome and prosperity. It’s believed to invite King Mahabali’s spirit into homes.

Why is Onam celebrated for ten days?

The ten-day celebration represents the return of King Mahabali to Kerala and the days of his benevolent rule.

Is Onam only celebrated in Kerala?

While Onam is most prominently celebrated in Kerala, its significance and joy have led to its observance in other parts of India as well.

What is the highlight of Onam celebrations?

The Thiruvonam day is the highlight, marked by the grand feast, cultural performances, and pookalam decorations.

How is Onam celebrated in modern times?

In modern times, Onam celebrations embrace technology for virtual participation and global engagement while retaining traditional customs and practices.