Ranking among the well known festivals in India, Onam portrays the rich tradition and diverse culture of the state of Kerala. It is the biggest festival in Kerala and takes place every year during the end of August or beginning of September. It continues for 10 days according to the first month of Malayalam Calendar. Onam is celebrated with great enthusiasm by Keralites irrespective of any caste and religion.
Onam is considered to be the state festival of Kerala and is marked as homage to Mahabali, the mythological Asura or demon king of ancient Kerala. The people of Kerala believe that Mahabali comes to his subjects on the day of Onam. The festival also has a social significance as it coincides with the harvest season which takes place during the months of August and September. Plenty of celebrations take place during the Onam festival.
Onam brings out the faith of the Keralites and their belief in the unity of religion, customs and traditions. All over the state, people adorn their houses with lamps and wear new clothes. Widespread celebrations take place in cities like Trivandrum, Trichur and Kochi. Even in villages, people enjoy in huge celebrations and fanfare by participating in traditional music and dance events. Young people, clothed in their best apparels, sing Onappaattu, a traditional song and enjoy to the fullest.
A popular ritual during Onam is to prepare the onam sadya. It is a traditional feast served on banana leaves and consists of rice along with 4 other dishes. In addition, traditional pickles and papadam are also served. The dessert usually consists of 'payasam', a sweet dish made of milk, sugar and other traditional Indian delicacies and dry fruits.