Onam: Harvest Festival of Kerala

Onam, the harvest festival of Kerala, is an exuberant celebration that brings together people from all walks of life to revel in the rich tapestry of culture and tradition that defines this southern Indian state. This joyous occasion marks the homecoming of the legendary King Mahabali, who is believed to visit his people during Onam. The festivities are filled with vibrant colours, elaborate rituals, mouthwatering feasts and captivating performances, making it an unforgettable experience for both locals and visitors alike.


When is Onam Celebrated?

Onam is usually celebrated during the Malayalam month of Chingam, which falls between August and September. The festival lasts for ten days, with the most important day, Thiru Onam, falling on the tenth day of the celebrations.

Why is Onam Celebrated?

The origin of the Kerala festival Onam is rooted in mythology and folklore. According to legend, King Mahabali was a just and benevolent ruler who brought prosperity and happiness to his kingdom. However, his growing power and popularity aroused jealousy among the gods, especially Lord Vishnu. In a strategic move to humble the benevolent king, Lord Vishnu took the avatar of Vamana, a dwarf Brahmin, and sought alms from Mahabali.

Moved by the dwarf's humility and compassion, King Mahabali offered him anything he desired. Vamana requested only three paces of land. To the astonishment of everybody, Vamana grew in size, covering the earth in one step and the heavens in another. With nowhere else to place his third step, King Mahabali offered his head. Touched by King Mahabali's love for his subjects and his willingness to sacrifice himself for their welfare, Lord Vishnu granted his wish. He blessed Mahabali, saying that he would be able to visit Kerala once a year during the time of Onam, a festival that holds immense significance in the state.

How is Onam Celebrated?

The ten-day extravaganza of Onam is a colourful spectacle that showcases Kerala's diverse traditions and customs. Here are some key elements of the Onam celebration:



One of the most beautiful aspects of Onam is the creation of intricate floral rangoli called Pookkalam. Each day, the Pookkalam grows in size and complexity, symbolising the joy and excitement of the festival.


The Snake Boat Race, known as Vallamkali, is a thrilling event during Onam. Colourfully adorned longboats, with rowers singing traditional boat songs, compete against each other in a show of strength and teamwork.


This unique folk art form features performers painted like tigers and leopards, dancing and mimicking the movements of these animals. It is a playful and entertaining spectacle that draws laughter from the spectators.


A sumptuous feast known as Onasadya is a highlight of the celebrations. Served on banana leaves, this vegetarian feast comprises a plethora of traditional dishes and flavours, showcasing the richness of Kerala's culinary heritage.

Thiruvathira Kali

Women perform the graceful Thiruvathira Kali dance during Onam, adorned in traditional attire. This elegant dance form celebrates the essence of womanhood and adds elegance to the festivities.


Wearing new clothes, particularly the traditional Kerala attire known as Kasavu saree or Mundu, is an integral part of the celebrations. It signifies renewal and new beginnings.


For those seeking an authentic and immersive Onam celebration in Kerala, Rhythm Kumarakom stands as the ideal choice. Nestled amidst the serene backwaters of Kumarakom, this luxurious resort offers a tranquil escape where guests can partake in the grandeur of Onam festivities. The warm hospitality of the resort's staff ensures that visitors feel right at home, making the Onam in Kerala 2023 experience truly memorable.

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