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The Biggest Carnival Of Kerala: Onam


The grander than grand " Onam " is a glorious affair. To say the least. The spirit of the biggest carnival of Kerala - Onam is contagious, as people come together to participate in narrative dramatics, folk dances, street plays, and performances held on the streets. Onam is nothing less than a carnival, and the excitement of the festivities is simply irresistible. Onam festival is observed during the Malayali month of ‘Chingam’ and marks the homecoming of ‘asura’ king Mahabali from the underworld. Though Onam continues for a total of 10 days, the actual day of the festival is on Thiru Onam, named after the star associated with Lord Vishnu. With the joy in the air, you can feel your face light up as you completely lose yourself in the festivities of this auspicious festival. The festival of Onam brings out the best of Kerala. There is no better time to explore and experience the culture, cuisine and the tradition of Kerala.

1. The Legend

The Biggest Carnival Of Kerala: Onam-1 Onam festival is observed during the Malayali month of ‘Chingam’ and marks the homecoming of ‘asura’ king Mahabali from the underworld. According to the legends, Mahabali’s reign in Kerala was the golden age, and his subjects so highly regarded the king that even the gods of heaven Indra (Indian counterpart of Zeus) became jealous. The gods then approached Mahavishnu (Hindu creator god and one of the Trinity) and implored him to do something about it as two Indra in the world represented Imbalance. Vishnu then took the avatar of Vamana – a dwarf Brahmin – and approached Mahabali. Vamana, in the guise of a short Brahman, requested three steps of land for him to live in. Given a promise of three levels of land by King Mahabali against the warning given by his Guru Sukracharya, Vamana, the Supreme God assumed a form so massive that he could step from heaven to earth, and earth to the lower worlds in two simple steps. King Mahabali unable to fulfil the promise of three paces of land to the Supreme God offered his head for the third step. In the third step, Vamana placed his foot on King Mahabali's head and gave him immortality for his benevolence. Onam is the celebration of the return of Mahabali from the underworld.

2. The Onam Sadya

The Biggest Carnival Of Kerala: Onam-2 The Onam Sadya is the central feature of Onam, the grand feast which is prepared on Thiru Onam. It is a nine-course meal and a selection of succulent Keralan vegetarian dishes, served on a banana leaf, to be eaten by hand. The feast carries over 15 different recipes that include Kootan) like Parippu curry (dal served with ghee), rasam, Aviyal, pickles, sambar, Pulisseri (curried buttermilk), Olan (veg stew in coconut milk), Payasam and Prathaman (sweet pudding made of rice, fruits and jaggery and just many more. Yum! all of these savoury items can turn anybody with a modest appetite into a complete glutton.

3. Snake Boat Race

The Biggest Carnival Of Kerala: Onam-3 Snake boat races are a huge part of Onam, taking place at Aranmula and other areas, with the Aranmula Boat Race being the oldest in Kerala. The Nehru Trophy Boat race has over 100 boatmen competing it out in the waters for their dear life, watching the crowd cheering for the boatmen can infuse enthusiasm in the most sullen of souls! Along with the Aranmul Vallamkali race held on 29th of Aug and the adrenaline-filled Uthradom Thirumal Pamba boat race held on 24th of Aug just a day before Onam, the snake boat race can make anyone quiver with excitement.

4. Floral Rangoli

The Biggest Carnival Of Kerala: Onam-4

The rangoli for Onam is made using flower petals and is called Pookalam (floral designs) and depicts the history of the festival. These floral patterns are seen outside homes and on roads, giving you a carpet of flower petals to walk on, it's easy to fixate your eyes on them and trip on the road, just be careful of that. The white saris with glistening golden borders can tempt any woman. Especially The Kasavu sarees, are quite a rage during Onam, and have even inspired some of Raja Ravi Verma paintings! Did you know—this saree, also known as the Mundum Neriyathum, is the oldest form of saree?

5. Tiger Dance

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Onam cannot be complete without mentioning the famous Tiger Dance! better known as "Puli Kali" or the " play of tigers ". It is celebrated on the fourth day of Onam ( Nalaam Onam) , performers painted in vibrant shades of yellow, red and black verisimilitude to the skin of tigers joyously dance to the beat of the instruments called as Udukku or Thakil. The dance pumps the whole atmosphere with energy and exuberance.

6. Neelakurinji

The Biggest Carnival Of Kerala: Onam-6 And Guess who is painting the town blue this month? The beautiful flowers of Neelarkurinji that bloom only once in 12 years. The flowering month spanning from August 2018 to December 2018 sees the beautiful hills of Munnar eclipsed with a hue of deep blue. The mesmerising view can leave any traveller agape with its beauty. If you are interested in finding out more about this pigmented flower check out our blog on Neelakurinji.

Quite a time to be alive? So why waste it away looking it at it from a screen and visualizing it from afar? Come, join the excitement and plan your trip to the enchanting lands of God's own country- Kerala and be a part of the ecstatic festival called Onam and celebrate it with gusto with our Kerala Tour Packages.

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