FESTIVALS & EVENTS

5 Reasons Why We Love Onam

Protima Tiwary

Last updated: Sep 4, 2017

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Kerala’s most important cultural festival, Onam, will be celebrated all over India with much gusto, and the land of tall palms and calm backwaters will turn into a riot of colours. Though Onam is celebrated for 10 days, the actual day of the festival is on Thiru Onam, named after the star associated with Lord Vishnu. Here are only some reasons why we’re super-excited about the festival.

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1. The Delicious Spread of Onam Sadya

The Onam Sadya is a selection of traditional Keralan vegetarian dishes served on a banana leaf, to be eaten by hand. The feast carries over 15 different dishes that include accompaniments (called Kootan) like Parippu curry (dal served with ghee), rasam, aviyal, pickles, sambar, pulisseri (curried buttermilk), olan (veg stew in coconut milk), payassam and prathaman (sweet pudding made of rice, fruits and jaggery) . All of this is served with a lot of love and warm hospitality.

2. The Excitement of Snake Boat Races

Water sports are a big part of Onam, with the boat races making heads turn all over the world! These boat races take place at Aranmula and other places, with the Aranmula Boat Race being the oldest in Kerala. The Nehru Trophy Boat race has over 100 participating boatmen, and is the second most popular boat race during Onam. Watching the cheering crowd egging the boatmen on is an adrenaline-filled experience!

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3. The Elaborate Floral Rangoli

The rangoli for Onam is made using flower petals, and is called Pookalam (floral designs). These floral patterns are seen outside homes and on roads, almost giving you a carpet of flower petals to walk on, except that they are so pretty that you wouldn’t want to step on them. The designs depict the history of the festival, and are considered to be auspicious elements.

4. Kasavu Sarees and Traditional Finery

Those white saris with golden borders have tempted many women to purchase one, because they look oh-so-elegant, especially when teamed-up with gold jewellery and flowers in the hair. The Kasavu sarees, as they are called, are quite a rage during Onam, and have even inspired some Raja Ravi Verma paintings! Did you know—this saree, also known as the Mundum Neriyathum, is the oldest form of saree?

5. The Colourful Street Processions

You need to be in Kerala to witness Onam processions in their full glory. If you are not, it’s time to put it on your bucket list! The spirit of Onam is on a grand display as people come together to participate in narrative dramatics, folk dances, street plays and performances held on the streets.

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This Onam, dress up in your best traditional attire and dig into copious amounts of Onam Sadya. If you have a friend in Kerala, ask them to bring back some of those delicious banana chips fried in coconut oil! 

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