Kerala, India - Onam is the largest festival in Kerala. People belonging to all religions come together and celebrate this festival with utmost gusto. This festival is important in Kerala as it brings everyone together and is seen as a festival which brings forth both unity and brotherhood among the residents," said programme co-coordinator for the floral design, Shybi John on Sunday.
Earlier on Saturday, residents of Kerala kick started the celebrations of the harvest festival with the royal parade in Kochi city with fervour and joy. The 10-day long harvest festival celebrations begin every year with Aathachamayam (The Royal Parade on Aatham Day) in Thripunithara (a suburb of Kochi City).
Onam is marked with varied festivities, including women performing assorted dance performances and men playing musical instruments to celebrate the auspicious occasion.
Schools and colleges have been shut for the ten-day period, as the state authorities are making elaborate arrangements for the traditional festival.
It is one of the very few festivals in Kerala that is celebrated with most of the cultural elements such as Vallam Kali (Boat race), Pulikkali (traditional animal dance), Pookkalam (flower decorations) and many more.
The uniqueness of the festival lies in the historical background of the festival.
The festival is based on the story of 'King Mahabali' who was so attached to his kingdom that it is believed that he comes annually from the nether world to see if his people are living happily. It is in honour of King Mahabali, affectionately called Onathappan, that Onam is celebrated.
Of all these days, most important ones are the first day, Atham and the last or tenth day, Thiru Onam on on September 16 which will include the grand Thiruvona-Sadya, well known for being one of the most sumptuous feasts and includes 13 to 15 dishes apart from other regular items.