The shining sun, the sound and beat of Chingam has marked the festive mood in Kerala, God’s own country where Onam, being celebrated as annual festival of harvest. Excited children, plan the color and image of festoon. A short vacation for ten days would be rewarded in advance to them. They rejoice all these days. The celebration starts with Athachamayam.
This year Atham began one day before the Ramadan fasting.
The garlands, art and cultural programs, followed by the popular Onam feast have been a nostalgic memory for every Keralite who live away from their place. Flower carpets would be decorated in courtyards. Children would rise-up early in the morning to prepare for celebration all the ten days since Atham. Flower decorations are continued until the sunset of grand celebration day, Thiruvonam. This year Thiruvonam will be celebrated on September 2nd. The birds and flowers, the beetles and butterflies, the sun and moonlight would mesmerize the festival season.
Onakkody, the new dress for family members, the swing of women and children after the lunch feast, howling of boys and young men in near by river or ponds have been the grand marks of Onam.
Time has changed lot; the celebration, too. The festoon, made of Thumpa, Thechy and many other pristine flowers have been a rare sight since few years.
Even in the villages, the rustic flowers have changed way for either imported flowers from other states or artificial ones.
Thumpithullal, rustic song and dance performed by women is a unique part of Onam festival. Pulikkali, boat-race and many other cultural extravaganzas attract many tourists during Onam, the greatest festival of Kerala. Onam festival season is the fruitful time for as many as folk arts .Crafts Fairs and many discount sales rejuvenate the market after the monsoon down.
The annual visit of King Mahabali (Maveli) is the major attraction of Onam and the festival itself is based on the reminiscence of the golden era, when people had rejoiced with peace, harmony and prosperity.
According to Hindu mythology, Mahabali reaches his old kingdom from the nether world to meet and bless his citizen. Thrikkara temple in Ernakulum has been famous and very special during Onam. Vamana Moorthy (Incarnation of Lord Maha Vishnu) temple is historic and linked with Onam mythology.
The loving legend is received with warm welcome .Young and old call him Onathappan .In Northern Malabar, especially in Kadatahanad people call him Onappottan. He plays with children and blesses them with flowers and rice. Mothers at home prepares in the morning to welcome Onappottan.
When the bell of Maveli rings, children roar and spread along the way with him. Brigades of children accompany him to near by homes in the village.
Time has changed lot. The sight of children wandering for flowers is also rare in villages. Thumpa and Thechy has become rare today. Flowers are imported from other states. Artificial flowers have also become a replacement of natural flowers. But whenever Onam comes, expatriate Malaya lees start to think on the cultural wonders of Kerala. A beautiful flower carpet comes along in their minds from far away destinations. Each and every one exchange Onam greetings and celebrate the mood in their own way. During the festive month, the Nature also is brightened with flowers and pleasant weather. The festival is celebrated beyond the barricades of caste and creed. A unity is created for celebration.
Swine flu and other fever worries have dampened Onam mood. Still Kerala is moving for the biggest and sweetest festival that can’t be minimized. This festival is unique with never ending positive thoughts and sweet dreams.