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Onam is celebrated all over kerala and it is considered as State Festival. It is also a harvest festival, and falls on the 22nd nakshatra Thiruvonam in the Malayalam calendar month of Chingam, which in Gregorian schedule covers with August–September.
According to legends, the festival is celebrated to recognize King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam. It is a harvest festival, one of three significant yearly Hindu festivals alongside Vishu and Thiruvathira, and it is seen with various festivities.
It falls in August or September each year. There are four main days of Onam. The most important day of Onam (known as Thiru Onam or Thiruvonam) is the second day. In 2020, Thiru Onam is on August 31.
Actually the festival season starts 10 days before Thiru Onam, on Atham. As per the Malayalam calendar, the dates for 2020 and their significance are as follows:
Atham (August 22, 2020) - 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 colors are chosen to please each god, and only yellow flowers are used on Atham for the first layer of the pookalam. However, these days, more importance is given to how elaborate and striking the design is. A grand procession, Athachamyam, marks the start of Onam celebrations near Kochi.
Chithira (August 23, 2020) - People clean their houses and add another layer to the pookalams, using mostly orange and creamy yellow flowers.
Chodhi (August 24, 2020) – Onam shopping is begin, on this day people buy new clothes, jewelry, sweets & snacks and gifts.
Vishakham (August 25, 2020) - Markets traditionally used to hold their harvest sale on this day, making it a popular day for shopping. Pookalam design competitions also commence across Kerala on his day.
Anizham (August 26, 2020) - Snake boat races kick off over the state. A mock race is held at Aranmula as a practice for the race that is held there after the fundamental day of Onam.
Thriketa (August 27, 2020) - People start visiting their families and fresh flowers continue to be added to pookalams.
Moolam (August 28, 2020)- People also decorate swings with flowers to celebrate the king's homecoming. Many places start serving smaller versions of the traditional Onam Sadya Meal.
Pooradam (August 29, 2020) - The day starts with the ritual installation of pyramid-style clay statues, known as Onathappan, in the center of pookalams. They represent king Mahabali and Lord Vamana. By now, the pookalams have greatly grown in size and complexity of design.
First Onam/Uthradom (August 30, 2020) - This day is considered Onam eve. King Mahabali is believed to arrive in Kerala on this day. It's a jubilant occasion when people rush to complete their Onam shopping and the cleaning of their homes. It's considered to be an auspicious day for buying fresh fruit and vegetables.
Second Onam/Thiruvonam (August 31, 2020) - 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.
Third Onam/Avvittom (September 1, 2020) - Preparations are undertaken for King Mahabali's departure. Onathappan statues are immersed in the sea or river, and pookalams are cleared and removed.
Fourth Onam/Chatayam (September 2, 2020) - Post-Onam celebrations continue for the next couple of days with snake boat races, Pulikkali tiger play, and Kerala Tourism's Onam Week program.
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