Flower rangolis or pookkalam are part of Onam celebrations.(HT file photo)
Flower rangolis or pookkalam are part of Onam celebrations.(HT file photo)

Onam 2017: A guide to the history and significance of the festival

Onam (September 4) is a celebration of the sacrifice of the beloved King Mahabali who sacrificed his life to uphold his vow. Here are some facts about the festival.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON SEP 04, 2017 09:00 AM IST

Every year, during the months of August-September, the festival of Onam is celebrated across Kerala and by Malyalees living across India; the diaspora also hosts elaborate celebrations in other countries such as the UAE and the USA. This harvest festival is one of the major annual festivals in Kerala and includes festivities such as boat races, tiger dances, elaborate flower arrangements and a mask dance. This year, it will be celebrated on September 4.

Boat races are part of Onam festivities. (Shutterstock)
Boat races are part of Onam festivities. (Shutterstock)

Why do we celebrate Onam?

The story goes that the Asura king Mahabali ruled over Kerala and was much loved by the masses. His popularity made the gods insecure and they asked Lord Vishnu to help them contain Mahabali. Lord Vishnu took on the form of the dwarf Brahmin Vaman (the fifth avatar of Vishnu) and visited Mahabali. The king asked Vamana for his wish to which he asked for three paces of land.

Vamana then grew in stature and with his first step he covered the sky, with his second step the netherworld. For the final step, Mahabali offered his own head. Impressed by his piety, Vamana granted him a boon that he would be able to visit his people once a year, which is now marked as Onam.

What are the rituals followed during Onam?

On the auspicious day, devotees bathe, offer prayers and draw flower rangolis called ‘pookkalam’ outside their door. If you visit Kerala during this period, you can witness dancing, boat racing and traditional feasts served on banana leaves.

A traditional Onam feast. (Shutterstock)
A traditional Onam feast. (Shutterstock)

What does the traditional feast include?

The Onam sadya (feast) served during Onam contains seasonal vegetables such as yam, cucumber, and gourd, banana chips, fried banana coated with jaggery, sambar, pickles and payasam.

Follow @htlifeandstyle for more

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Sotheby's said it will take about two months to take an inventory of all the objects in eight Lagerfeld residences in France and Monaco.(Reuters)
Sotheby's said it will take about two months to take an inventory of all the objects in eight Lagerfeld residences in France and Monaco.(Reuters)

Lagerfeld's art, furniture collections to be auctioned in Monaco in autumn

Reuters, Paris
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:38 AM IST
Late German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld's collections of artwork and furniture will be sold at auction in Monaco this autumn, auction house Sotheby's said in a statement.
Close
Guinness Book's ‘master of monster vegetables’ grows world’s heaviest turnip(Twitter/GWR)
Guinness Book's ‘master of monster vegetables’ grows world’s heaviest turnip(Twitter/GWR)

Guinness Book's ‘master of monster vegetables’ grows world’s heaviest turnip

By Zarafshan Shiraz
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:27 AM IST
  • Guinness World Records highlights Canada man as ‘the master of monster vegetables’ for working in his garden in the past year to grow ‘three colossal, record-breaking turnips - all of which have broken the record for the world’s heaviest turnip’
Close
The live performance is an effort to give people some small respite from the coronavirus pandemic and other hardships.(AP)
The live performance is an effort to give people some small respite from the coronavirus pandemic and other hardships.(AP)

Mobile orchestra tries to bring cheer to Venezuelan streets

AP, Barquisimeto, Venezuela
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 10:03 AM IST
Orchestra music envelops the streets of a Venezuelan city every time a truck carrying musicians has made its way through traffic for the past year, capturing the attention of drivers and passers-by who take photos and stare at the vehicle.
Close
This pre-wedding celebration in Mumbai is one of many moments that capture contemporary Sindhi life in India. The community that moved to India from Pakistan after Partition has spoken of horrors and resilience. (IMAGE COURTESY RITESH UTTAMCHANDANI)
This pre-wedding celebration in Mumbai is one of many moments that capture contemporary Sindhi life in India. The community that moved to India from Pakistan after Partition has spoken of horrors and resilience. (IMAGE COURTESY RITESH UTTAMCHANDANI)

Meet the young inheritors of the Sindhi legacy, with Saaz Aggarwal

UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 09:24 PM IST
The author’s new anthology, Sindhi Tapestry, features young people from around the world who have interpreted their identity in different ways, while acknowledging a shared history.
Close
Whether you’re telling your life’s story as a comic caper or a heroic adventure, a good story should contains truth, substance, a little of the personal, an element of surprise. (Shutterstock)
Whether you’re telling your life’s story as a comic caper or a heroic adventure, a good story should contains truth, substance, a little of the personal, an element of surprise. (Shutterstock)

Life Hacks: What kind of storyteller are you, asks Charles Assisi

By Charles Assisi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 09:19 PM IST
There are those that inspire, while others seek only to impress; those whose stories are deep, precise and stay with you. What’s your favourite kind, and what kind are you?
Close
With a virtual home, especially one that’s bigger, brighter and fancier than your own, redecorating is more rewarding than amassing points in a game. For many it offers tips on actual furnishing, and an escape from their own too-familiar houses. (DESIGN HOME CARIBBEAN LIFE)
With a virtual home, especially one that’s bigger, brighter and fancier than your own, redecorating is more rewarding than amassing points in a game. For many it offers tips on actual furnishing, and an escape from their own too-familiar houses. (DESIGN HOME CARIBBEAN LIFE)

The virtual, vicarious pleasures of home-decor games

PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 09:12 PM IST
Start with an empty mansion, and decorate it using realistic furnishing, lighting, grand sculptures or trendy bits and bobs. It’s the great escape we didn’t know we needed in the lockdown.
Close
 (IMAGES COUTRTESY TVS)
(IMAGES COUTRTESY TVS)

Wheels up! Biker Harith Noah on his record-setting finish for India at Dakar 2021

PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 09:10 PM IST
The 28-year-old just completed the world’s most dangerous bike rally. It all started with a little need for speed, he says.
Close
Gatka, a martial art of Sikh warriors that uses wooden sticks and leather shields, is played between two or more participants. (Photo courtesy National Gatka Association of India)
Gatka, a martial art of Sikh warriors that uses wooden sticks and leather shields, is played between two or more participants. (Photo courtesy National Gatka Association of India)

Fighting fit: Four indigenous martial arts get a Khelo India boost

By Vanessa Viegas
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 08:53 PM IST
Kalaripayattu from Kerala, Mallakhamb from central India, Gatka from Punjab and Thang-ta from Manipur have been classified as sports. What comes next?
Close
 (HT Illustration: Jayachandran)
(HT Illustration: Jayachandran)

Why we fidget... and should you stop?

PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 08:30 PM IST
There can be benefits to all the foot-tapping and twiddling of thumbs. It can even help focus the mind. So how much is too much?
Close
Vani Murthy’s videos set tips on sustainable living to classic rock music. “Bono seems like a compassionate person. I think he’d think about sustainability,” she says
Vani Murthy’s videos set tips on sustainable living to classic rock music. “Bono seems like a compassionate person. I think he’d think about sustainability,” she says

Bin there, done that: Vani Murthy knows how to refuse

By Cherylann Mollan
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 08:24 PM IST
59-year-old social media influencer @wormrani posts about composting, terrace gardening and natural cleaning products. She also hands out a crash course on classic rock while she’s at it.
Close
 (Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock)

A calendar of truth and lies: The Weekly Puzzle by Dilip D’Souza

By By Dilip D’Souza
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 07:52 PM IST
There are plenty of puzzles about liars and truth-tellers
Close
Raza was a founder member of the Progressive Artists’ Group
Raza was a founder member of the Progressive Artists’ Group

Dalmia: Raza’s vibrant works with underlying meanings made him better known

By Navneet Vyasan
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 06:24 PM IST
Yashodhara Dalmia’s biography on the legendary artist opens up a side to him which was never previously explored
Close
Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has had it particularly rough. He last competed in January 2020. He hopes to resume competition this month. (AFP)
Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has had it particularly rough. He last competed in January 2020. He hopes to resume competition this month. (AFP)

The Sporting Life: Are we prepped for Tokyo, asks Rudraneil Sengupta

By Rudraneil Sengupta
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 08:21 PM IST
They’ve waited an extra year, suffered from illness, disrupted schedules and little to no training. And the Olympics are now just five months away.
Close
Smita Patil, angry and unyielding, as Sonbai in Mirch Masala.
Smita Patil, angry and unyielding, as Sonbai in Mirch Masala.

Wonder women: Anupama Chopra picks her top heroines of the silver screen

PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 05:14 PM IST
If not on Women’s Day, when! Here are some of the most fierce, fearless and fabulous female characters to have lit up our screens.
Close
People look paintings during the Frick Collection opening press preview at Frick Madison in the Marcel Breuer building on March 4, 2021 in New York City. - The Frick's permanent collection features old Master paintings and European fine and decorative arts, including works by Bellini, Fragonard, Goya, Rembrandt, Turner, Velazquez and Vermeer. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)(AFP)
People look paintings during the Frick Collection opening press preview at Frick Madison in the Marcel Breuer building on March 4, 2021 in New York City. - The Frick's permanent collection features old Master paintings and European fine and decorative arts, including works by Bellini, Fragonard, Goya, Rembrandt, Turner, Velazquez and Vermeer. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)(AFP)

Touring the Frick Madison, New York’s newest cultural landmark

Bloomberg, New York
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 03:02 PM IST
The museum’s chief curator takes us on guided tour through the galleries inside the former Whitney (and for a time, Met Breuer), which will house the Frick Collection’s masterpieces while its Fifth Avenue mansion is expanded.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP