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Onam is the most significant festival in Kerala. It is symbolic of King Mahabali’s annual homecoming, whose reign was believed to be the most prosperous time for the state. With celebrations spanning over 10 days, the festival is observed with much splendour by the Malayalee community around the world. It falls on the 22nd Nakshatra Thiruvonam in the Malayalam calendar month of Chingam and overlaps with August and September as per the Gregorian calendar.
Onam is a perfect time for families to bond. So, on this Onam, I wish you and your family a good time. Happy Onam!

Festivities commence 10 days before Thiru Onam, on Atham. As per the Malayalam calendar, Important segments are as follows:

  • Atham is when mythical King Mahabali is believed to have started preparing to return to visit his kingdom in Kerala. People begin the day with an early bath, followed by temple visits and prayers. The women also commence creating floral arrangements (pookalam) on the ground in front of homes to welcome him. Traditionally, the pookalams are completed with ten rings, each representing a Hindu god. The colours are chosen to please each god, and only yellow flowers are used on Atham for the first layer of the pookalam
  • Anizham Marks the start of festive Vallam Kalli snake boat races in the state. A mock race is held at Aranmula, as a rehearsal for the legendary Aranmula Uthrattathi Vallamkalli boat race that takes place there after the main day of Onam.
  • Moolam Many places start serving smaller versions of the traditional Onasadya Onam meal.
  • Pooradam the day commences with the ritual installation of pyramid-style clay statues, known as Onathappan, in the centre of pookalams. They represent king Mahabali and Lord Vamana (the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who sent Mahabali to the underworld but allowed him to visit his kingdom once a year during Onam). By now, the pookalams have greatly grown in size and complexity of design.
  • Uthradom this day is regarded as Onam Eve. King Mahabali is believed to arrive in Kerala. It's a jubilant occasion when people rush to complete their Onam shopping and the cleaning of their homes. It's also an auspicious day for buying fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Thiruvonam the main Onam celebrations occur on this day when King Mahabali is said to visit people's homes. Homes are spic and span, finished pookalams are elaborate, new clothes are worn, and families gather to enjoy an elaborate vegetarian feast known as the Onam Sadya or Onasadya.
  • Avvittom preparations are undertaken for King Mahabali's departure. Onathappan statues are immersed in the sea or river, and pookalams are cleared and removed.
  • Chatayam post-Onam celebrations continue for the next couple of days with snake boat races, Pulikkali tiger play, and Kerala Tourism's Onam Week program.
Reference: Learnreligion

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