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One mention of Kerala and the memory of ‘Onam’ festival springs to mind in many Indians. Kerala, the South Indian coastal state regards Onam as a very important festival. This festival often falls around the month of September. If you ever visit Kerala around this festive period you can expect to be absorbed by the joyful festive mood which would go on for about ten days as the Onam festival’s celebrations last for a period of ten days.

Legend-Legend has that Onam is celebrated after the memory of King Mahabali. It was said that the King ruled Kerala long time ago and that he was a good King who looked after his people well. Thus Onam symbolizes the joyful rule of the King and the happiness that the people had under his rule. The people also have the belief that during Onam, the King returns to Kerala to visit his people.


them. On Onam, everybody in the family would be wearing new clothes. Delicious sweetmeats and favorite vegetarian dishes would be cooked and served on banana leaves. One important item that would be visible outside each house is the ‘pookalam’ a flower mat. This flower mat is like a symbol of welcoming the King Mahabali. During Onam, traditional rituals are performed and the people celebrate the occasion with a grand feast. One favorite dessert that would be served on the day is ‘payasam’ a sweet & tempting porridge.

During the celebrations of Onam, if you’re a tourist in Kerala, you can never miss the colorful parade of elephants & fireworks. For entertainment, the popular Indian dance, ‘Kathakali’ dance would be performed and other spectacular events like carnivals and sports events would be some of the highlights for the festival as well. At night there would also be songs and dances to delight all. In fact, it has been noted that a high number of tourists would always visit kerala around this period just to catch all the action and joyous celebrations of Onam.

Another attractive feature to watch out for during the festival Onam is the famous ‘Vallamkali’ or otherwise known as the great boat race. For this boat race hundreds of men row the boats to the beat of drums and cymbals. An interesting thing to note is that above each boat there is a scarlet silk umbrella and gold coins are hung from the umbrellas. There are various boats, which also include the ‘Chundans’: the snake-like long boats that are shaped like snakes. This event is a very popular with many as various types of boats compete with each other to win the race. Many usually crowd around to catch the boat race and some cheer for their favorites to win.

One remarkable thing about Onam is that it is celebrated by all, not only Hindus but also by Christians and Muslims who are living in Kerala. It is one festival that unites all people regardless of race and religion.