The ten-day Onam festival is featured by colourful celebrations across the state. Though Thiruvonam, which falls on September 9 this year, is the main day of festivities, the day preceding it and the next two days are also marked grand scale celebrations.
Here we present you the Onam festival calendar for 2011 which gives information on the festivities and important events related to the festival.
ONAM -2012 – IMPORTANT DATES
August 21 - Atham
August 22 - Chithira
August 23 - Chothi
August 24 - Visakham
August 25 - Anizham
August 26 - Thrikketta
August 27 - Moolam
August 28 - Pooradam/Uthradam
August 29 - Thiruvonam
August 30- Avittam
August 31 - Chathayam
ONAM -2012 – FESTIVITIES
Atham (August 21)
The festival begins. From this day onwards, pookalam or floral decorations are spotted in front of houses to welcome Mahabali, the legendary king who once ruled Kerala.
Athachamayam a grand celebration is held on the day at Thripunithura in the Ernakulam district. A majestic procession is taken out featuring caparisoned elephants, floats, folk art forms and traditional festival orchestras.
Chothi (August 22)
Annual festival begins at Sree Narasimha temple in Kottayam district. The festivals heralds the temple festival season in the region.
Annual festival begins at Vamanamoorthy temple at Chelamattom in Ernakulam district. The temple is unique to have the idols of three incarnations of Lord Mahavishnu namely Sree Krishna, Narasimha and Vamana. Vamana is the Brahmin boy in the Onam mythology who banished Mahabali to the nether world.
Uthradam – Onnam Onam (August 28)
Uthradam is the day of last-minute shopping. Uthradapachil, as the ‘frantic rush’ is called, is a common sight in markets and streets across the state. Groceries and cloths are the main shopping items. The day is also called ‘Onnam Onam’ or first Onam.
On the day, a special ritual called ‘kazhchakkulavaipu’ is held at Guruvayoor Sree Krishna Temple in the Thrissur district. In this, hundreds of devotees present kazchakkula or plantain fruits to Lord Krishna, the presiding deity.
Thiruvonam (August 29)
The main day of the festival is featured by festivities at homes and public places. Pookkalam, the floral decoration laid at houses to welcome King Mahabali, will be grand and colourful on this day.
The lunch will be a sumptuous ‘sadya’, the traditional special feast featuring several dishes. It’s time for games in the afternoon. Competitions and games like tug of war are held in public places.
Two spectacular boat races are held on the day at Payippad and Neerettupuram, both in the Alappuzha district. Separate races for various country crafts, including the majestic chundan vallam rowed by more than 100 oarsmen can be watched at both the places.
It may seem strange, but the same day to welcome their beloved king from the nether world is also celebrated as the birthday of Vamana by Malayalees. In the Onam mythology, Vamana is the Brahmin boy who banished the king to the nether world.
The annual festival of some temples dedicated to Vamana in Kerala concludes on this day. They include the Vamana temple at Thrikkakkara and Vamanamoorthy temple at Chelamattam, both in Ernakulam district. Both the festivals are marked by elephant pageantry and traditional festival orchestras.
Avittam – Moonnam Onam (August 30)
Festivities continue on the Avittam day, also called Moonnam Onam or third Onam.
A boat race is held on the day at Ranni in Pathanamthitta district.
Chathayam – Naaalam Onam (August 31)
A boat race is held at Ayiroor Puthiyakavu in Pathanamthitta district. Festivities come to a close on this day, also called Naalam Onam or fourth Onam.