Thu, Sep 21, 2023

Onam: Tracing its history, significance and cultural splendor

Written by  Jasleen Kaur -- August 29th 2023 03:35 PM
Onam: Tracing its history, significance and cultural splendor

Onam: Tracing its history, significance and cultural splendor

Onam 2023: Onam is vibrant and cherished festival of Kerala, which holds a tapestry of history and significance that weaves together mythology, culture, and community. This annual celebration is more than just a festival; it is a reflection of Kerala's rich heritage and the spirit of unity that defines its people.

Origins of Onam

The roots of Onam can be traced to the legend of King Mahabali, a just and prosperous ruler. However, the gods, wary of his growing power, sought Lord Vishnu's intervention. Disguised as Vamana, Vishnu asked Mahabali for three paces of land. The king's generosity compelled him to agree, leading Vamana to cover the entire cosmos in three steps. This act pushed Mahabali to the netherworld, but Vishnu granted him the annual boon of visiting his people, giving birth to the tradition of Onam.

10-day festival 

Spanning 10 days, Onam epitomises unity and inclusivity. People of diverse backgrounds unite, casting aside religious and societal divisions. This celebration embodies Kerala's age-old values of equality and harmony. The hallmark Onasadhya feast exemplifies this ethos, where individuals assemble to partake in a lavish meal presented on banana leaves, underscoring the notion of universal equality in the divine's gaze.

The importance of Pookalam

Pookalam, the intricate and vibrant floral carpet, forms a vital element of Onam festivities. With each passing day of the festival, the Pookalam expands in size and intricacy, adorned with diverse flowers and intricate designs. Beyond visual aesthetics, these lively patterns mirror the exuberance and eagerness with which the people honour the revered King Mahabali's arrival during the celebrations.

Time when Kathakali takes centre stage

Onam is a time when Kerala's rich cultural heritage comes to the forefront. Traditional art forms such as Kathakali, a classical dance-drama, and Pulikali, the folk art of painting oneself as a tiger, take centre stage. These performances bring stories to life and create an aura of joy and celebration.

Onam is a reminder of Kerala's timeless values, its resilience in the face of challenges, and its commitment to fostering harmony and unity. 



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