This article tells us about the rituals associated with the celebration of Onam festival.

Onam Rituals

Onam is the biggest and the most important festival of Kerala. People really have fun during this time. Festivities of Onam continue for ten long days. Of all these days, most important ones are the first day, Atham and the last or tenth day, Thiru Onam. Religious and traditional people of Kerala sincerely follow all the customs and traditions set by their ancestors. A number of cultural programmes, dances, songs and feasts mark the festival. There are various rituals associated with the celebration of the first day, Atham. The day is regarded holy and auspicious by the people of Kerala. People take early bath on the day and offer prayers in the local temple. The important event of the day is the making of Pookkallam or the flower carpet starts from this day. Attha Poo is prepared in the front courtyard by girls of the house to welcome the spirit of King Mahabali in whose honor Onam is celebrated. Boys play a supporting role and help in gathering flowers. In the following days, more flowers are added to Pookalam. As a result Pookalam turns out to be of massive size on the final day.

Another important day is the Thiru Onam. Preparations for the Thiru Onam start in a big way and everybody gets engaged to mark the festival in their own way. Everybody cleans their house to give a festive look to their house. There is also a set breakfast consisting of steamed bananas and fried pappadam (pappad). This remains the same till the day of Thiru Onam. A swing is also slung on a high branch of a tree. It is decorated with flowers and the youngsters take great delight in swinging and singing, that goes simultaneously. Thiru Onam is a big day. The best part of the festival is that it is a secular festival so people from all community and religion can take part. There are various morning rituals. People wake up early as 4 a.m. on the day of Onam. Day begins with cleaning of the house. In the earlier days, front courtyards were smeared with cow dungs. The custom is still followed in villages, where the houses are not cemented. Onasadya is the most important and elaborate lunch after completing the morning rituals; it is time for the family to get ready for the grand meal called Onasadya. The biggest and most prominent place in the house is selected to lay the meal which is traditionally served in a row on a mat laid on the floor.