Onam Special : Know Everything About this Ten Day Long Festival!

In South India, Onam is considered to be one of the most widely celebrated festivals. Mostly, this festival is celebrated in Kerala, but its celebratory colours are seen all across South India. Onam is referred to as Thiruvonam in Malayalam language and its celebration lasts for ten days. 

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This year, the festival of Onam is going to be celebrated on August 31, Monday but people have already started observing its fervour from August 22, 2020.  There is a four day long government holiday in Kerala owing to this festival. As per Hindu Panchang, every day of this ten day festival is considered to be highly significant. Today, we are going to tell you all the special things pertaining to this festival. Let us know by taking a glimpse of this festival through this article.

Shubh Muhurat for Onam / Thiruvonam

Beginning of Thiruvonam Nakshatra : August 30, 2020 by 13:52:20
End of Thiruvonam Nakshatra : August 31, 2020 by 15:04:17 

Note: The above mentioned timings are auspicious for Delhi only. Click here to know the Muhurat of Onam / Thiruvonam of your city. 

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Why is the Festival of Onam Celebrated?

Many beliefs have been associated with the festival of Onam, one of which is that this festival is celebrated in remembrance and reverence of the demon named King Bali. It is believed that Lord Vishnu incarnated himself as Lord Vaman to destroy the arrogance of Bali but on seeing his devotion to fulfill promise, he made Bali the king of the underworld (Patal Lok).  In South India, it is believed that on the very first day of Onam, King Bali appears on Earth and enquiries about the well being of people. In addition to this, it is also celebrated in South India while harvesting and reaping new crops.  

Significance of Onam 

As per the Malayalam Solar Calendar, the festival of Onam is celebrated in the month of Chingam. Malayalam people consider this month to be the very first month of the year while as per Hindu Calendar, the same month is of August or September. Every day has its own significance in this ten day festival. During this festival, people keep their houses decorated with flowers for twelve days and worship Lord Vishnu and Bali with appropriate rituals. This festival is also celebrated on the appearance of new crops. 

Click to know the details on Indian Holidays 2020 

How is this festival Celebrated?

The festival of Onam is also celebrated for ten days like that of Navaratri. This festival is extremely important for the people of Kerala. The Malayalis embrace each other and wish for good fortunes. During the ten day festival, people clean their houses and decorate them with flowers, Diyas and Rangolis. According to the custom, King Bali returns to the underworld (Patal Lok) after knowing the well being of people. On the ninth day of Onam, the idol of Lord Vishnu is placed in every house and women dance around it. The incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Vaman, is worshipped in the festival of Onam. Kathakali dance and boat race are considered to be the main cultural attractions of this festival. During the festival of ten days, people make a variety of dishes at home. They prepare kheer mixed with jaggery, rice and coconut milk. In addition to this, Sambar and many other types of vegetables are also made in every house.

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How to Prepare for Ten Days Celebrations of Onam Festival?

  • Atham, The First Day 

On the very first day of this festival, wake up in the Morning and take a bath. Then, worship god at home or temple. Bananas and fried papads are a part of breakfast for this day. Now, make Onam flower carpet titled ‘Pookalam’ at home while following the tradition of this festival.

  • Chithira,The Second Day

Commence this day with worship and prayers. After this, add new flowers to the flower carpet named Pookalam. During this, the males of the house bring fresh flowers for this purpose.

  • Chodhi, The Third Day

The third day of Onam is very special because people make purchases from the markets. It is considered to be auspicious for shopping on this day.

  • Visakam, The Fourth Day

In several parts of Kerala, competition is held for making flower carpet on this day. Women prepare pickles, chips made of potato, banana papads, etc. for the final day.

  • Anizham, The Fifth Day 

On this day, a boat race competition is held on a large scale known as Vallamkali.

  •  Thriketta, The Sixth Day  

Many cultural events are organised by people on this day. Also, they thank god while dancing and singing.

  • Moolam, The Seventh Day 

       People decorate markets and homes on this very day and small fairs are       organized.

  • Pooradam, The Eighth Day 

This day, people make idols of clay in the shape of pyramids. These idols are referred to as Maa and are placed at the place of worship and offered flowers with other items of Puja.

  • Uthiradam, The Ninth Day 

People wait for the appearance of King Bali with excitement on this day. Also, all the arrangements are made for worship before his appearance. Women prepare flower carpets themselves 

  • Thiruvonam, The Tenth Day

King Bali appears on this day. People greet each other and serve dishes. Also, decoration of flower carpet is exhibited and cultural programs are arranged. At night, people burn crackers to celebrate this festival with great pomp and show.

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Mythological Beliefs Pertaining to Onam

As per the legend, there was a demon named Bali in Treta Yuga who was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Bali was charitable by nature, truthful and respected Brahmins.  He always performed Yagya, penance etc.

King Bali got highly powerful due to his devotion. He had been envious of Devraj Indra, owing to which he conquered Indraloka, and started ruling on other Gods. Being feared and fed up with Bali, Devraj Indra along with other Gods went to Lord Vishnu for help and prayed to him for protection. Then, Lord Vishnu incarnated himself as Vamana to protect Gods and appeared before Bali as a young Brahmin child and won him over with his intellect.  

Vamana, the incarnated form of Lord Vishnu, tested King Bali. Bali had already captured all the three worlds but he had a quality of not allowing any Brahmins to go empty-handed and always donated whatever they wished for . Lord Vamana demanded three steps of land from Bali. There was a demon present over there named Guru Shukracharya, who could see through the trick played by Vamana and alerted Bali. In spite of that, Bali agreed to the demand of Vamana and promised to give him three steps of land.

On receiving the promise, Lord Vishnu took a massive form on and measured the earth with one foot and Heaven with the heel of the other foot and Brahmaloka with the paws. Now, King Bali was left with nothing for the third foot and therefore, he surrendered his head unto the feet of Lord Vamana and Vamana put his third leg on Bali’s head. Pleased with the devotion of Bali to fulfill promises, Lord Vamana asked him what he wished for. Then, Bali said that he would desire to appear among people once in a year. That is why, on the day of Thiruvonam, King Bali appears. This festival of Onam is considered highly significant not only culturally but also religiously.

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