Onam is an annual festival celebrated in Kerala, and the most important time of the festival falls on the tenth day; the tenth day is called Thiruvonam. Since it’s a significant day, people use the terms interchangeably by calling it either Onam or Tiruvonam. Thiru Onam stands for Shravan Nakshatra, in Malayalam. The Tiru Onam celebration puja is performed when the Shravana Nakshatra is dominant in the Chingam month, as followed by the Malayalam Calendar.
Before you celebrate Onam 2020, you must know the basics of this special festivity. Thiruvonam comprises two terms namely Thiru and Onam. “Thiru” stands for holy and it’s the Malayalam equivalent of “Shree” in Sanskrit. The people of Kerala believe that during the Onam festival, every year, King Mahabali visits his people from Patal Loka (the nether world). Various other beliefs are associated with this festival like the birth of Vishnu’s avatar, Vamana.
During Thiruvonam 2020 in Kerala, a 4-day holiday break is declared. The break starts a day before Onam and ends two days after the festivities end. The four days are called First, Second, Third, and Fourth Onam. The second Onam celebration is the main day which is celebrated with pomp and splendor.
History of the Onam festival:
The mythology states that King Maha Bali was a mighty ruler, and he controlled all three Lokas – Bhu Loka, Deva Loka, and Patal Loka (Earth, Heaven, and the Nether World). Even though he belonged to the Asura clan, he was known to be generous and kind to his people, and for that, he was adored. However, it is said that the Gods were not happy with him because he had defeated them to conquer heaven.
Hence, they requested Lord Vishnu to help them win heaven back. Lord Vishnu took the form of Vamana, a dwarf Brahmin, and visited the king. Since Brahmins are considered as avatars of the Gods, it was considered auspicious to provide them with donations. Vamana requested for three steps of land, once the three steps were granted, he began to get huge in size. He placed his first step on Earth, Second on Heaven, and since he didn’t have any space to put his third step, King Bali offered his head. Vamana pushed the King down to the Netherworld. As the King was gentle and kind with his offer, and impressed Lord Vishnu asked him for any boon that he wished for. The King requested if he can visit his people, once a year, this visit was later given the name Onam.
Hence, the boon was granted and on this day the people celebrate his return by celebrating Onam every year.
Thiruvonam 2020 celebrations:
Since Onam is an important festival in Kerala, Keralites try to make the celebrations as grand as they can. The celebrations start ten days before Thiru Onam. The first day of the festival is also known as Atham.
The second day of Onam 2020 is known as Chithira, and this day is dedicated to cleaning, decluttering, and decorating your house and preparing it for the tenth day.
The eighth day of Onam is known as Pooradam and it includes any last-minute shopping sprees for the final day of Tiruvonam.
On the ninth day, also known as Pooradan, people finish any final shopping needs like purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables for the Onam Sadya. During the evening time, people will cut vegetables and fruits to prepare them for the dishes that will be prepared on the tenth day.
On the tenth and final day, people wake up early, have a bath, wear their new clothes, and donate to the needy. In most houses, it’s a tradition that the eldest member of the family purchases clothes for everyone.
On the final Onam 2020 date, Thiruvonam Puja and rituals are performed during the Shravan Nakshatra. The house is cleaned and decorated with flower carpets, especially near the main entrance. This is done to welcome the spirit of King Bali. You can even use rice paste to create designs at the entrance.
Keralites prepare a grand feast called Onam Sadhya for the King so that they can get his blessings. The Sadhya is one of the significant highlights of Onam celebrations, and the festivities are incomplete without it. Those who celebrate Onam either prepare the feast at home or get it catered. The feasts include 26 varieties of dishes, it’s served on a banana leaf, and it includes different chips, sweet dishes, lentils, pickles, and buttermilk.
The celebration comes to a close with various cultural performances and games. People also light lamps, at the entrance of their homes, for a radiant ambiance, post-sunset.
10-day celebration during Onam 2020: The rituals and significance
First day (Atham): On the first day of the Onam festival, people will go about with their daily routines in the morning and then visit the temple. Breakfast on this day will include steamed bananas and fried pappads. This breakfast is a feature throughout the ten days of Onam celebration. Once the breakfast is done, they will start arranging the Pookalam, also known as a flower carpet.
Second day (Chitira): The second day of the Onam celebration will start with prayer and worship. After this, new flowers are added to the Pookalam.
Third day (Chodi): The third day is significant because all the markets start prepping for shopping. From this day, people start shopping and purchase stuff that will be required on the final day of Thiruvonam.
Fourth day (Visakam): On the fourth day, various communities will start holding Pookalam competitions. Women will also start preparing pickles and chips for the final day.
Fifth day (Anizham): This day is anticipated because you get to witness the infamous boat race, also known as Vallamkali.
Sixth day (Thriketa): You will witness many cultural events on this day. People of all ages participate in various fun activities, they attend the events with their loved ones to add joy to the festivities
Seventh-day (Moolam): As we near the final day, the excitement mounts and it’s seen in the form of crowded markets that are filled to brim with different food items, People walk around the markets and taste their favorite dishes, while purchasing décor for their homes.
Eighth day (Pooradam): On the day of Pooradam, people will start creating idols made out of clay, and shape them into pyramids. The idols are adorned with beautiful flowers.
Ninth day (Uthiradam): On the day before Thiruvonam, the excitement starts to build and people begin to prep their houses for the return of the king. They will create huge Pookalams at the main entrance.
Tenth day (Thiruvonam): The most awaited day has arrived, and this is where everyone starts wishing each other and offers prayers to King Mahabali as he blesses them. The grand feast of Onam Sadhya is prepared on this day, and the day ends with various grand cultural events and fireworks.
Eleventh day (Avittom): Here the people prepare for the return of the king by performing various rituals and prayers.
Twelfth day (Chathayam): On this last day of the Onam festival all the celebrations come to an end with a grand dance festival.