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God’s Own Country Calling

3 September, 2019

Festivals
, Onam

Kerala (Keralam), is God’s own country and is famous for its lush greenery, rivers and boat races, scenic mountains, mist and beauty, beautiful traditions, art and literature, and more. Perhaps, if you want to visit Kerala, there is no better time than now. Kerala celebrates its state festival of Onam on the 12th of September, and there are many beautiful traditional events associated with it, that adds to the beauty and memories of a Kerala trip during this time.

The Onam

The people of the state celebrate Onam, in honor of their erstwhile King Mahabali, who was sent down to Pataal by none other than the Vamana avatar of Lord Vishnu. He was a great king, and it is said this kingdom and people prospered under him and the people loved him a lot. He loved his people too, and thus asked that he be allowed to visit his people once a year, and it is this time that the people of the state celebrate Onam.

It is a ten-day festival starting from the Atham day and then ends with Thiruvonam, which is the main day of the festival. There is also a saying in Kerala, which says one must celebrate Onam grandly even if by selling his last piece of property. That is out the love for the King to show that whenever he visits, he should feel that happy that his people are living happily and abundantly.

Hence, people decorate their house with beautiful flower carpets for ten days, and it is family time, as most families get together. Interestingly, though it is a Hindu festival as such, most people in Kerala, across all communities celebrate Onam. On the tenth day is the grand Onam festival, when people wear new clothes, visit temples, and also prepare a grand feast at home. It is called the Sadya, which will have many dishes like avail, porial, rice, sambar, pickle, papadam, paripu, kalan, olan, erissery, puliyinchi, etc. All dishes are vegetarian and are served on a banana leaf, and the family eats together, and many friends too, join in. To top it all, there will also be a payasam, called pradhaman, which is made using many different ingredients.

Events

On the sidelines, many events are unique and interesting, and you can watch these and enjoy. For example, the Payippad Boat Race is one of the oldest and the largest snake boat races of Kerala, held during this time. This year it is scheduled to be held on 13th of Sep, on the Payippad River at Harippad, Alleppey district.

There is also the Pulikkali or the Tiger dance, which is where certain people dress up or paint themselves as tigers and dance like one, in an entertaining way. Traditional drums are beaten to allow the dancers to dance to a beat, and this keeps from moving from slow to fast, and the dance moves of the Pulis also change accordingly. While you can see this many cities of Kerala during this time, the procession that happens in Swaraj Round, Thrissur, on the 14th September, happens to be a big one, with hundreds of people turning up as tigers.

Besides, the state government organizes many cultural events and also arts and crafts fairs in almost all cities of the state. These showcase the unique and attractive traditions of the state, and also the handiwork of the state, most of which is related to coconut, which is abundant in the state. Artifacts made of coir, coconut shells, brass items, wooden carvings, wall hangings of Elephant nettipattams like the ones that elephants wear during the festival, etc. are a great buy.

Besides, you can also check out their traditional food fair, as well as spices like cardamom, cloves, etc. and even tea and coffee. Kerala is also famous for banana chips, which is a must-have, and you may even take back some for family and friends. If you want to visit Kerala, next week happens to be the best time to do so.

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