Pookalams to Onasadhya, Here is All You Have to Know

The competition of Onam is definitely celebrated with a lot fanfare in Kerala.

The zeal with which Malayalis throughout the state await the competition is akin to the way in which most of us would stay up for the New Yr’s Eve.

Other than being the harvest competition, Onam is well known to welcome the legendary demon king Mahabali, who’s extra popularly often called Maaveli.

Believed to be one of many biggest kings to have dominated Kerala, it’s mentioned that such was his attachment to his topics that yearly Maaveli makes a fabled go to to his kingdom to see how they’re faring in life.

The harvest competition for Malayalis. Supply: Wikimedia.

Falling within the month of Chingam, which marks the primary month within the photo voltaic calendar of Kollavarsham, Onam is well known over a 10-day interval.

Every of today has important customs and rituals that add as much as the ultimate day, which is the Thiru Onam or Thiruvonam.

Pookalams (floral rangoli), snake boat races, feasts, native artwork kinds, processions, video games and presents—all of those are the necessities that make Onam the competition of happiness and merriment in full measure.

Here’s a glimpse into the age-old traditions and festivities practised in the course of the 10-day lengthy competition that celebrates Maaveli’s homecoming:

Supply: Wikimedia.


Marking the start of Onam season, the day begins with folks making customary visits to the temples.

A grand procession known as Atthachamayam is flagged off at Thrippunithura close to Kochi, the place from the place Maaveli is meant to have been banished from Earth.

Today additionally marks the graduation of the king making ready for his go to to Kerala.

Atham is also the day when folks begin adorning their houses with lovely flower preparations often called Pookalam.

Athapookalam. Supply: Maxpixel.

Historically, the Pookalam laid on Atham is called athapoo and is kind of small in dimension and adorned with yellow flowers. With every passing day of the competition, the scale of the Pookalam will increase with the addition of flowers.


A standard customized in India is the cleansing of houses with the onset of festivals. The oldsters in Kerala additionally undertake this activity of sprucing up their houses on the second day of Onam.

Supply: Wikimedia.

A second layer of flowers makes its technique to the Pookalam.


As festivals come calling, it’s the time to bond with your loved ones and make necessary buying journeys.

The third day of Onam sees households heading out to make varied purchases as a major side of the competition revolves round gifting each other with new garments, often called Onakodi, and jewelry.

Supply: Swadesh.

On at the present time, a number of layers of flowers are added to the Pookalam, which makes it considerably bigger in look.


Thought-about to one of the auspicious days of the competition, that is the day when preparation for the Onasadhya, or the Onam feast, is kickstarted.

The fantastic thing about the customized is that each member of the household has to make some contribution to the preparations, regardless of how small it’s.

Although the standard unfold is a nine-course meal laden with 26 completely different mouth-watering delicacies, these days households attempt to make it as grand as possible and embody as a lot as 10 to 13 dishes.

Ona Sadhya. Supply: Wikimedia.

In actual fact, the significance of the Onam feast in Kerala will be vouched from an previous saying in Malayalam, ‘Kanam Vittum Onam Unnanam’, which suggests one shouldn’t miss Onam sadhya even when they must promote their properties.

Because the competition additionally marks the harvest interval within the state, within the olden days, the day of Vishakam was one of many busiest in public areas with the opening of the harvest sale in markets.


Snake boat races have been a major side of the state’s wealthy cultural heritage.

One of many vital occasions that happen throughout Onam is the Aranmula Uthrattathi Vallamkali, which brings collectively completely different groups from throughout the state, who battle it out with their snake boats and synchronous rowing expertise.

Snake boat race. Supply: Wikimedia.

The Vallamkali (boat race) is flagged off on the fifth day from Aranmula, which is a small city positioned on the banks of Pamba river in Pathanamthitta.


That is the day when most households go to their ancestral houses and bestow their family members with presents.

By then, the Pookalam is bedecked with greater than 5 – 6 layers of various flowers.


The festivities now shift into a better gear with many native dance performances paving the way in which for processions.

One among these consists of the Puli Kali or Kaduva Kali – the place artists act as tigers, goats and hunters and dance to the beats of native percussion devices.

With the artists’ our bodies painted just like the animals, the efficiency is kind of amusing and entertaining to observe.

Puli and Kaduva Kali. Supply: Wikipedia.

One other vital dance that’s a part of the competition is Thiruvathira Kali or Kaikotti Kali, the place ladies wearing conventional costume of Set-Mundu dance round a Pookkalam and a Nila Vilakku (lamp).

Dancing in a round formation, the dance consists of steps the place the ladies clap in unison.

Thiruvathira Kali. Supply: Wikimedia.

Additionally, ranging from the day of Moolam, many temples begin providing particular sadhyas (feasts) for the folks. Many native resorts observe go well with and supply smaller variations of the standard Onasadhya.

As Maaveli’s homecoming nears, many people additionally observe the customized of fixing a florally adorned swing of their courtyards.


The eighth day of Onam sees the entry of small statues of Maaveli and Vamana (an incarnation of Hindu God Vishnu) which can be taken round one’s houses and eventually erected within the centre of the Pookalam.

Supply: Wikimedia.

It’s believed that solely after the statues are positioned does the invitation stands open for Maaveli to go to the houses of individuals.

The statue of Maaveli is named Onathappan from at the present time thence.

One will now discover the Pookalams to start out having a bigger unfold that’s designed in additional intricate manners.


The eve of Onam sends households flocking to markets for buying recent greens and different provisions that they’ll want to organize the grand sadhya on the ultimate day of the competition.

In response to generally believed lore, Maaveli will spend the subsequent 4 days visiting his former kingdom and blessing his folks.


The ultimate day of Onam or Thiruvonam is when the festivities come to a end result – however not earlier than the luxurious feasts have been devoured and a wonderful show of fireworks!

Beginning with an early bathtub and donning new garments, the much-awaited Onasadhya is a results of a collaborative effort by each women and men within the household.

On at the present time, each particular person eats meals served on a plantain leaf laid on the ground. The customized is a mirrored image of humility and that every one are equal.

Supply: Wikimedia.

Following the grand meal, folks throughout cities and cities staff up and organise varied video games—of which vadam vali (tug of warfare) is the most well-liked.

This yr, the Onam week has already commenced with Atham falling on August 18 and Thiruvonam on August 27, in keeping with the Malayalam calendar.

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