Kerala's harvest festival Onam is the celebration
of the return of the spirit of king Mahabali.
The legendary King Mahabali, was well loved by his people. He
was supposed to have annexed all the three worlds - earth, heaven
and the nether world. The Devathas, having lost possession of
heaven, appealed to Lord Vishnu. Vishnu approached Mahabali
in the guise of a Brahmin boy, Vamana, and asked for
a boon of three feet of land. When the boon was granted, Vishnu
grew to enormous proportions and with his first two steps covered
both the sky and the earth. Realising that he was defeated,
Mahabali offered his own head for Vamana to take his third step.
Though Mahabali was vanquished, his people yearned for him.
So Vishnu permitted him to return to earth to his people once
a year. And so the people of Kerala celebrate Onam, welcoming
the spirit of king Mahabali.
On the day of Onam, houses are cleaned and floral decorations
put up to welcome the beloved ruler. People visit temples early
in the morning to offer prayers. Then begins the feast of delicious
food on plantain leaves. Pookalam is a traditional flower
arrangement that is made entirely of flowers. Evening cultural
programmes include Kaikottukali where women dressed in
brilliant white silk saris dance in a circular movement. Kathakali
performances are also organized in many places.
Many tourists including foreigners visit the city during the
season and the Government of Kerala has declared this period
as a Tourism Week.
April 14, holds special importance to the people of Kerala.Vishu heralds the Malayalee New Year [also known
as the harvest festival]. Vishu is the first day of the first
Malayalam month of Medam. Though it is the ninth month
in the new calendar, astrologers continue to follow the older
calendar and thus consider the first day of Medam to
be the New Year Day. Similar festivals such as Ugadi in
Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Bihu in Assam,
and Baisakhi in Punjab, are all celebrated around
the same time.
On this occasion children eagerly await to receive the 'vishukaineetam',
where the elders of the family hand over small tokens, normally
in the form of one rupee coins to the youngsters. The belief
behind this custom holds that the children would be blessed
with wealth and fortune in the future. The women of the house
prepare the mid-day sadhya, which comparatively may not
have a grand spread as in the case of say, the more celebrated
Onam. Steaming hot rice is served on plantain leaves accompanied
by kaallan (spiced-up curry made of vellarikya and ripe
mangoes in butter milk), olan (white pumpkins, potatoes,
and coconut in a wheyey gravy), erisseri (jackfruit in
a thick peppery gravy) and papadams. The dishes are made
predominantly using gourds and pumpkins, mangoes, jackfruit,
and coconuts which are found in abundance during the season.
Finally payasam [sweet] made of rice and milk, ends the
The famous Sree Krishna temple at Guruvayoor holds great
importance during Vishu, wherein the Vishukani festival
dedicated to Guruvayoorappan [Lord Krishna],
the presiding deity, is considered to be extremely propitious.
LIST OF FESTIVALS AND FAIRS:
Makara Vilakku festival at Sabarimala Temple.
The Elephant March at Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram.
Utram Festival at Tripunithura.
Sivarathri Festival at Tripunithura Temple.
Kodiyettu, Ashtami Festival and Elephant
race at Guruvayur [Sri Krishna Temple] .
Thrissur Pooram at Thrissur.
Arattupuzha Pooram at Arattupuzha Temple.
Shankaracharya Jayanthi at Kalady.
Prathishtadinam at Sabarimala.
Oachirakali [the festival of martial arts
Boat race at Alappuzha.
Nehru Trophy boat Race at Alappuzha.
Kerala Tourism Week
Krishna Jayanthi at Guruvayur.
Mahanavami [Dance and Music festival at