Festival - Onam
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|| Trichur Pooram ||   || Onam  ||   ||  Easter  ||  ||  Vishu  |

One of the highlights of the traditional Onam festivities is the Atta-poo an auspicious floral decoration that is made in the compound of the house The first day of Onam is called Attam. Women get up early than usual have a bath, wear fresh clothes, neatly pin strings of jasmine and other seasonal flowers in their long black tress and adorn themselves with jewellery. Usually circular in shape it is often multi-tired and up to four or five meters across. It is decorated with leaves flowers and petals of different kinds a flower is dedicated to each day of Onam and predominates the decorations.
According to local belief, in a war that took place between the gods and the demons, the demons won.
Deeply hurt by the defeat of the gods, Aditi, their mother prayed to Lord Vishnu to destroy Mahabali, the demon king. Consequently, Lord Vishnu, in the guise of a Brahmin boy, Vamanan, went to Mahabali and asked him to grant him three steps of land. The wish was granted and Vamanan covered the whole land with his two steps and then he came back to the King asking him where can he place the third step.

The king to honour his word, offered his head as the third step. Vamanan pushed Mahabali deep down into the earth. Pleased by his honesty and generosity, the lord in turn granted him a wish that he could he could visit his kingdom and people on a particular day once a year.

Onam falls on the twelfth day of the waxing moon in the Hindu month of Bandon (around Aug-sep) Once the golden yellow rice fields have been harvested at that time of the year. There is no specific god associated with Onam neither is any special puja performed. The first thing people do is decorate the gates or main doors of their homes. They adorn their homes and gates with fresh branches of red coconut, banana leaves and coconut fronds.

On the eve of Thiruvonam, the second and most important day of Onam, Mahabali comes to bless his people. On this day the people of Kerala make a symbolic welcome. Houses are cleaned and decorated with flowers and lights. The eldest member of the family distributes clothes. Served on banana leaves the customary meal includes banana wafers, Ginger chutney, Kootuaviyal, Sambar, Milk Payasam and sweet made with Jaggery.

Illuminations take place in the major cities such as Tiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Kozhikode and Trissur. Kovalam hosts a Kathkali and native art festivals and a village fair with handicrafts and cuisine predominating. In Shornur Kathkali dancers bring myth of life. The beauty and magnificence of the caparisoned elephants in Trissur is legendary. While the temple at Thrikkakkara, where the legend of Mahabali is beautifully depicted focuses the regions festivities.

The famous snake boat races are held during this time. Though the snake boats are purely for fun there are rituals connected to the snake boats. Tradition demands that a namboodiri Brahmin be at the main rudder Oar, which is about twelve foot long. There are four main Oarsmen who control the movement of the boat. In the old days villagers used to sit in the boat in order of their castes, but today the order is changing through a certain pattern can still be distinguished. Everyone the carpenter, the barber, the goldsmith, the blacksmith as well as the agricultural labourers all have a place on the boat.


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