Onam is the prime festival in the Indian state of Kerala. It is one of the most momentous harvest festivals of Kerala and is an attraction for thousands of people outside and within the state. This festival is celebrated in the Malayali month of Chingam (Aug - Sep) and marks the homecoming of legendary King Mahabali.
It was thought to be that King Mahabali ruled Kerala a long time ago and looked after the welfare of the people. Thus Onam shows the wonderful rule of the King and the freedom, which the people enjoyed under his rule. The people also believe that during Onam, the King returns to Kerala to pay a visit to his people.
All the activities during this season are centered on worshipping, music, dance, sports, boat races and good food. Everybody in the family wears new clothes. Delicious sweets and dishes are prepared and served on the banana leaves. Intricately decorated Pookalam, ambrosial Onasadya, and the heart-throbbing frolic of Snake Boat Race and exotic Kaikottikali dance are some of the most remarkable features of Onam. Women dress up in heavy jewelry and new saris and make complx and detailed designs of “rangolis” and “pookkalam”(with flowers) in front of their homes. Onam is celebrated not only by Hindus but also by Christians and Muslims. It is one such festival that unites all the people regardless of race and religion.
The best thing about Onam is that, it is not only a break from the regular humdrums, but a moment which Malayalis celebrate with their hearts out. Although this festival has its origin in Hindu mythology, Onam is for all people of all class and creed. Hindus, Muslims and Christians, the wealthy and the downtrodden, all celebrate Onam with equal fervor. Plan a holiday visit to Kerala during the festive period of Onam and you will be absorbed by the joyful merry mood which would go on for about ten days. Spectacular parades of caparisoned elephants, fireworks and the famous Kathakali dance, sport events and carnivals, all this makes Onam-time a perfect period to visit this coastal state, touted as "Gods Own Country".