Vibrant Onam Festival – Onam history, Onasadhya, Pookalam, Snake Boat race, Kaikottikali dance

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Friends, its time to celebrate the vibrant Onam Festival of Kerala which falls on 29th August, 2012. Wanna know more about this magical Festival Onam, check out the colorful journey of exploring Onam history & customs...

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Vibrant Onam Festival Onam history, Onasadhya, Pookalam, Snake Boat race, Kaikottikali dance

Friends, its time to celebrate the vibrant Onam Festival of Kerala. Wanna know more about this magical Festival Onamjoin us on our colorful journey of exploring Onam history & customs The history of Onam: In ancient times there lived a King called Mahabali, who used to rule the state of Kerala then Keralam. The countrymen loved Mahabali because of his kind, just & benevolent nature. Very soon his khayaati spread to the Gods up above in Heaven. Considering Mahabali a threat to his throne Indraasaan, Lord Indra somehow convinced Lord Vishnu to go and test King Mahabalis kindness. Lord Vishnu went to Mahabali as a small Brahmin boy called Vaman (this avtaar of Lord Vishnu later became famous as Vaman Avataar) & asked for land measuring his three footsteps. The kind & benevolent King readily agreed but his Guru Shankaracharya recognized the Lord and sensed danger. Therefore he hid inside the kamandal with which the King was supposed to take the oath of donating the land. When water didnt come out of the kamandal nozzle, Lord Vishnu tried to clear the outlet with a sharp pointed twig thereby making the Guru blind in one eye. As soon as the King took the oath Vaman began to increase his size; with his one footstep he measured the entire Earth (including Mahabalis Kingdom), in 2nd step he took the heavens up above for the 3rd footstep Mahabali offered his head thereby pushing the king to the Paatal Loka. Upon the Kings request Lord Vishnu allowed Mahabali to come & visit hiscountrymen every year for 10 days during the Harvest month. Thus, started the festival of Onam.

How to celebrate Onam?Lets explore Onam Festival Customs.. This harvest festival of Kerala has been granted the stature of state Fest by the Government of Kerala and is celebrated with great gutso & enthusiasm by all the Malayalees every year. Onam Festival falls during the Malayali month of Chingam (Aug Sep). This year Onam falls on 29th August i.e. coming Wednesday. The main attractions of the 10 day long Onam festivities are: Onam Pookalam, Onam special food called Onam Sadya, snake boat race, Kaikottikali dance, Onam Greetings & much more.

Onam Pookalam: On the day of Onam flower carpets called Pookalam are made in front of each Malayalee house. Poo in Malayalam means flower & kalam means arrangement. Lots & lots of flowers and leaves are required to make these artistic Onam Pookalams. Kids take great pride in collecting the flowers for Pookalam hence get to know more about Nature, flowers, colors & birds indirectly. Now-a-days Government & many private organizations organize Pookalam making contests to encourage the modern generation.

Pookalam making tips: Lots of thinking & planning goes in selecting the Pookalam theme

(design). Shredding of the flowers has to be done very carefully without damaging the delicate petals. Though its a time consuming activity. People generally like to prepare Pookalam depicting some traditional theme. No artificial colors & materials can be used in this flower carpet. However, Nirapara (an Indian style measuring cup) & Nilavilakku (traditional decoration lamp) can be used. The initial Pookalam design is to be drawn using rice powder or chalk.

Snake Boat Race: The snake boat race is the main highlight of the Onam festival. These boats are made with special kind of wood & are oiled with fish oil to keep the boats strong & slippery. About 128 kms from Trivandrum, the capital city of Kerala, the snake boat races are held in a village called Aranmula. These boats are 100 to 130 feet in length with the rear portion towering to a height of 20 to 30 feet. Almost 80 to 100 men are required to row a boat. The men sing & dance and make merry while participating in the boat race.

Elephant Race: Another enchanting feature of Onam celebrations is the elephant race. People of Kerala take utmost care to celebrate Onam in best possible way.

Kaikottikali dance: The Malayalee women express their joy by performing a special dance form called Kaikottikali dance. And why not, godowns are full with rice, the great King Mahabali is on his wayso its time to dance! Women wear a special off white saree with golden border during this Onam special dance.

Onam sadya also known as Onasadya: How can an Indian festival be complete without some traditional dishes? Also, ordinary food cant be offered to a King therefore a special Onam sadya or Onasadhya is prepared. A typical Onasadhya used to comprise of 64 dishes in olden days. Means eight varieties of dishes were served in an eight course meal. But in

todays fast paced lifestyle still a Malayalee prepares almost 20+ dishes on the 10th day of Onam, called Thiruonam. Onasadhya is served on tender banana leaves and is meant to be consumed with hands; no spoons & forks are to be used.

Onam Greetings: People send Onam greetings to their relatives and friends to express their joy!

Its time make an artistic Pookalam, perform Kaikottikali dance, cook Onasadhya and hail the great Mahabali joyously.

Happy & prosperous Onam!Buzzintown recommends: Kerala gets ready to celebrate Onam Pookalam contest in Delhi to mark Onam Onam Sadhya spells festive indulgence