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The Start of Onam
Onam is the biggest festival of the year in India's southern state of Kerala. Much of the state's culture is showcased during Onam festivities. These Kerala Onam pictures reveal the color and splendor of the celebrations.
Celebrations start with the Thripunithura Athachamayam festival on Atham (10 days before Onam) in Thripunithura, near Ernakulam in Kochi. In earlier times, the festival was celebrated in commemoration of the King of Kochi. He marched from Tripunithura to the Vamanamoorthy Temple in Thrikkakara (also known as Thrikkakara Temple). The era of royalty had ended but the festival is still celebrated with all its glory to mark the beginning of Onam. It includes a street parade with floats, musicians, and various traditional Kerala art forms such as theyyam.
Read More: 6 Onam Festival AttractionsContinue to 2 of 13 below.
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Enthusiastic drummers play during Onam celebrations. Traditional drumming is an integral part of festivals in Kerala.Continue to 3 of 13 below.
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Onam Flower Market
Flowers for sale at street market on the eve of the Onam festival. These flowers will be used to make pookalams (floral carpets).Continue to 4 of 13 below.
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Making a Pookalam for Onam
Decorative pookalams (floral carpets) are a highlight of Onam festival celebrations and the most prominent ritual. The creating of pookalams traditionally starts on Atham, and a new ring of flowers is added each day up until the main day of Onam. Contests for making the best pookalams are also held across Kerala during the festival.Continue to 5 of 13 below.
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Decorating the Entrance to Homes
The Onam pookalams are placed at the entrance to homes to welcome mythical Onam King Mahabali and seek his blessings for prosperity.Continue to 6 of 13 below.
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Lighting Lamps During Onam
Lamps are also lit to invite King Mahabali into homes. A lamp will typically be placed at the center of every pookalam.Continue to 7 of 13 below.
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Thiruvathira Kali Folk Dance
Thiruvathira Kali is a popular folk dance performed by women during Onam. They clap and co-ordinate their hand movements in unison, while gracefully moving in circles and singing. According to legend, Thiruvathira Kali brought the deity of love, Kamadeva, back to life after Lord Shiva reduced him to ashes. Others say Thiruvathira Kali commemorates Lord Shiva taking Goddess Parvati as his wife.Continue to 8 of 13 below.
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Swings, decorated in flowers, are also an integral part of the Onam festival particularly in rural areas. Kerala Tourism also sets up hundreds of swings around Trivandrum for the public to use. The play on swings is known as oonjalattam.Continue to 9 of 13 below.
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Onasadya is the grand feast that's served during Onam celebrations in Kerala. It's prepared on the main day of Onam, and dished up on a Banana leaf. Extremely elaborate in nature, it consists of numerous types of vegetarian dishes. A typical Onasadya feast has 11 to 13 different dishes, all consumed in a particular order.Continue to 10 of 13 below.
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Onam Snake Boat Race
The most famous snake boat race that's held during Onam celebrations is the Aranmula carnival, along the Pampa River. Find out more about the Aranmula carnival and snake boat races in Kerala.Continue to 11 of 13 below.
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Pulikalli Tiger Dance
Men dressed up as tigers for Onam. The ancient tradition of Pulikalli tiger play is a curious practice indeed. Find out more about Pulikalli, including its meaning and where to see it.Continue to 12 of 13 below.
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Kummatti Folk Dance
During the Onam festival, masked artists go from house to house performing the Kummatti folk dance to the beat of drums. They also dance on the streets in various districts. Their costumes are made from grass and wooden masks of popular gods such as Krishna, Hanuman and Ganesh.Continue to 13 of 13 below.
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Shinkari Melam Performance During Onam
Shinkari Melam is a classical music performance using traditional instruments in Kerala. Here, the musicians are performing with cymbals and the chenda, a cylindrical percussion instrument that's used widely in south Indian states. The chenda is used as an accompaniment for religious art forms and dance rituals in Kerala, including Pulikalli tiger play.