Onam 2023: When Is Onam? Everything You Need To Know About 10-Days Long Festival Of Kerala

Onam 202 Date, history, significance, and more: Onam is one of the major harvest festivals celebrated by the Malayali community with great pomp and enthusiasm across Kerala in India. The festival also marks the beginning of the Malayalam year, called Kolla Varsham. The festival of Onam is celebrated in the month of Chingam, which falls in August or September in the Gregorian calendar. 

In 2023, Onam will begin on Atham on Sunday, August 20th, and continue till Thiruvonam on Tuesday, August 29. The Thiruvonam is considered the most important day of the festival as it is believed that on this day the legendary King Mahabali the son of Veerochana and grandson of Prahlad, returns to Kerala from the underworld to visit his people. 

In this article, you will get to know everything about the date, history, significance, celebrations, and more of this 10-day-long auspicious harvest festival.

When is Onam? | Onam 2023 date in India

Onam is a ten-day-long harvest festival celebrated with great devotion and excitement across Kerala. In 2023 Onam festivities will begin at Atham on Tuesday, August 20, and Sunday, to Onam also known as Thiruvonam which will fall on Tuesday, August 29th. 

However, the festival will still continue with post celebrations such as – Avittom (third onam), Chathayam, Boat race, and many more that we have mentioned with details in the article. Keep scrolling to know more.

Thiruvonam 2023 Timings:

Thiruvonam will be celebrated on Tuesday, August 29 2023 and the auspicious time will start at 02:43 AM and ends at 11:50 PM on August 29th.

Nakshathram Begins 02:43 AM
Nakshathram ends 11:50 PM

Here are the 10 days of Onam 2023:

Onam is a 10-day long festival that begins on Atham, followed by Chithira, Chodi, Vishakam, Anizham, Thriketta, Moolam, Pooradam, Uthradom and last the day which is called Thiruvonam, and each day holding a great significance.

Name Day & Date
Atham Sunday, 20 August 2023
Chithira Monday, 21 August 2023
Chodhi Tuesday, 22 August 2023
Vishakam Wednesday, 23 August 2023
Anizham Thursday, 24 August 2023
Thriketa Friday, 25 August 2023
Moolam Saturday, 26 August 2023
Pooradam Sunday, 27 August 2023
Uthradam Monday, 28 August 2023
Uthradam/First Onam Monday, 28 August 2023
Thiruvonam Onam Tuesday, 29 August 2023

A brief history of the Onam festival

The history of Onam is associated with the legend of the demon King Mahabali who took over the three worlds by defeating the Gods (Devas). Mahabali was a powerful, wise, judicious, and extremely generous king who ruled the kingdom of Kerala with justice and compassion. He wasn’t just ruled the kingdom but also rule over the heart of his people. 

Despite Mahabali being a demon king he was one of the biggest worshipers of Lord Vishnu. it is believed that Kerala witnessed its golden era when King Mahabali ruled in the state. After seeing his popularity, fame, and the respect he received from his people the gods became extremely concerned and jealous of him.

One day, lord Vishnu disguised as a dwarf Brahmin called ‘Vamana’ came to the Kingdom of Mahabali. Lord Vishnu knew that Mahabali was a very generous and charitable king who was always willing to grant anything to one who approach for any help. 

So Lord Vishnu who disguised as Vamana took to the advantage and asked Mahabali for three paces of land as much he could be covered by his three steps. Mahabali was surprised to hear but he agreed, thinking that the dwarf would not be able to cover much ground in three paces.

However, Vamana grew to enormous size with each step he took and you will be surprised to know that with his first two steps, he covered the entire earth and sky. After seeing that there is nothing left for Vamana, then King Mahabali offered his own head to the dwarf so that he could keep the promise. After the request of Mahabai, Vamana put his third step on his head which pushed him to the netherworld

Lord Vishnu who disguised as a dwarf Brahmin was impressed by Mahabali’s generosity and devotion. He decided to grant Mahabali a boon, allowing him to return to his kingdom ‘Kerala’ once a year to visit his people. This annual visit of King Mahabai is celebrated as Onam.

Onam is a time for the people of Kerala to celebrate their rich culture and heritage. It is also a time to remember the legend of King Mahabali and his love for his people.

Onam is a time for celebrating the harvest and the prosperity of Kerala. Onam is a beautiful and festive occasion that is celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm by the people of Kerala. It is a time to reflect on the past, celebrate the present, and look forward to the future. 

Here are some of the significance and importance of the Onam festival:

– Onam is a harvest festival that is celebrated with great pomp and devotion, it is also a time to give thanks for the bountiful harvest that the land has provided. 

– During the festivities of Onam people across Kerala decorate their homes with flowers, prepare a delicious feast, and participate in various cultural activities.

– Onam is a time for friends and family reunions and spending time with loved ones. People who belong to Kerala, travel from all over the world to come home and celebrate with their families. It is a time to catch up with old friends and relatives, and to create new memories.

– Onam is a time for cultural activities and performances such as dance performances, music concerts, and boat races. If you want to learn more about Kerela and its rich culture you attend these events.

– The festival of Onam is a time for promoting peace and harmony. Keralite forget about their differences and regardless of their religion or caste, come together to celebrate the festival as one community.

– Onam is also a time for praying for the well-being of everyone, for a good harvest, good health, and prosperity for the coming year.

Onam 2023: Cultural, Rituals, Celebrations, and Activities

Onam is a time for feasting, gift-giving, and family reunions. It is also a time for traditional dances, music, and games. Some of the most popular Onam activities include:

– Pookalam

Pookalam is a flower rangolis made with fresh flowers and petals during the 10-day Onam festivities in Kerala. It is believed that without Pookalam the Onam festivities are incomplete. Pookalam consists of two words – ‘Poo’ means flowers and ‘Kolam’ means decorative pattern or rangoli. It is a symbol of good luck, and prosperity and is believed to welcome King Mahabali also known as Mahaveli to his kingdom. The first-day Pookalam is made with only yellow flowers, and the designs become more complex and colorful with each passing day.

– Vallamkali

Vallamkali, also known as the Snake Boat Race, is a most popular and traditional boat race that is held on the Pampa River which includes the Aranmula Uthrattathi boat race and Nehru Trophy Boat race in Kerala during the 10-day-long festival. It is held during the harvest festival of Onam and is a major tourist attraction. The race features long, narrow boats with up to 128 paddlers, and is a test of strength, stamina, and teamwork.

– Pulikali 

Pulikali is a folk art performed by men during the 10-day festivities of Onam in Kerala, where performers paint their bodies like tigers and dance to the beat of drums. It is performed on the fourth day of Onam, a harvest festival, and is a celebration of courage, bravery, and the spirit of battle.

– Onam Sadya

Onam Sadya is a multi-course vegetarian meal made up of a variety of dishes and served on banana leaves which are considered to be a sacred symbol during the Onam festival in Kerala. It features over 25 dishes, including curries, pickles, rice, and desserts. The feast is a symbol of abundance and prosperity, and it is enjoyed by people of all ages.

– Athachamayam

Athachamayam is a grand cultural procession that marks the beginning of the ten-day Onam festival and a rare opportunity to witness almost all the folk art forms of Kerala which is held in Thrippunithura, Kerala. It commemorates the victory of the King of Kochi and features caparisoned elephants, floats, musical ensembles, and a variety of folk art forms. It is a colorful and vibrant event that is sure to impress.

– Kathakali

A traditional dance-drama that is performed by men. Kathakali is a complex and sophisticated art form that tells stories from Hindu mythology. The dancers wear elaborate costumes and makeup, and they move in a stylized and graceful way.

– Thruvathirakali

Thiruvathirakali is a unique group dance of women in Kerala. The dance is performed by women in small groups, both as part of and apart from religious rituals. Generally, on Onam and Thiruvathira day in the month of Dhanumas, women perform this art form by singing the praises of Shiva Parvati in Shiva temples etc.

These are just some of the most beautiful ways in which the festivities of Onam are celebrated in Kerala. It is a truly festive occasion that is full of color, music, and dance. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Kerala during Onam, I highly recommend it. It is an unforgettable experience.

Here are some post-Onam celebrations:

– Avittom

The third day after Thiruvonam, which is also known as Avittom holds cultural significance in Kerala. On this day, the Onathappan statue, which was placed in the middle of every Pookalam during the past 10 days, is immersed in nearby rivers or sea. The Pookkalam will be cleaned and removed after this ritual. 

– Chathayam

The fourth day after Thiruvonam, which is also known as Chathayam. On this day, families come together to celebrate and bid farewell to King Mahabali, who was believed to be visiting during Onam. There are various cultural events held such as traditional games, dance performances, and folk art exhibitions that add color to the festivities, fostering a strong sense of community and heritage.

– Onam Kali

Onam Kali is a traditional folk dance performed during the Onam festival in Kerala. It is a circle dance where the participants arrange themselves in circles around a pole or tree or lamp then sing and dance to the beats of drums and cymbals. The dance is often accompanied by songs from the Ramayana and other epics.

These are some of the most famous post-Onam celebrations that are observed in Kerala.

(Note: Dates/timings may be subject to change; details mentioned here are as per the information available.)

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