Embracing Tradition with Onam 2023 Celebrations

    India is the land of festivals. Due to the presence of various religions, cultures and people, innumerable festivals are celebrated every year in this country. Some celebrations shine brightly like special threads, showing what a certain place is about. Kerala is known as God’s own country. Onam is a festival from Kerala, India, where people celebrate the harvest. It’s like a special dance of old traditions and new ideas that have been happening for a long time. People are are celebrating Onam 2023 with great enthusiasm.

    Among the prominent festivals observed by the Malayali Hindu community, Onam signifies the commencement of the yearly harvest period in the southern regions of India. This joyous occasion is welcomed with enthusiasm and entails a series of exuberant celebrations across Kerala, earning its distinction as the designated state festival. As per the Malayalam calendar, the festival aligns with the initial month of Chingam, corresponding to the period of August-September in the Gregorian calendar. In the year 2023, the merriments of Onam were scheduled to commence on 20th August and culminate on the 31st August. So the festival Onam has already started as per the Onam 2023 date.

    History and Significance of Onam

    According to ancient tales, Onam is observed as a tribute to the homecoming of King Mahabali from Patala, a subterranean realm. King Mahabali, a benevolent ruler of Kerala who was known by all for his generosity and benevolence. His virtuous reputation challenged the deities, compelling them to seek help from Lord Vishnu. Disguised as a Brahmin, Lord Vishnu journeyed to Kerala and implored the king for a grant of land that could be covered within three paces. King Mahabali obligingly fulfilled this request, unaware of Lord Vishnu’s true identity.

    In a remarkable twist, the Brahmin expanded with his initial and subsequent steps, engulfing the expanse of the sky and earth. Just as he poised for the final step, King Mahabali, realizing the Brahmin’s divine nature, offered his head as a stepping stone, leading the Brahmin to Patala. Despite making this sacrifice, King Mahabali received a blessing for his virtuous actions: an annual vacation to visit his subjects on Earth. Onam signifies the occasion of his yearly return to the terrestrial realm, symbolizing his enduring connection with the people.

    Cultural Festivities, Customs, and Traditions

    The advent of the Onam Festival 2023 ushers in many vibrant activities, embraced with exuberance and zeal. The festival’s essence resides in its rich cultural traditions, encompassing a spectrum of events encompassing boat races, traditional dances, floral adornments, vivid artwork, culinary delights, and the donning of traditional attire.

    The 10 Days of Onam 2023

    The celebration of Onam extends over 10 days, encompassing a multitude of festivities. It is observed by the majority of Hindus in its authentic traditional form. The initial ten days of Onam hold paramount significance, commencing with Atham.

    1. Atham (20 August 2023)

    The festivities begin at Vamanamoorthy Thirrikara Temple in Kochi, with the grand Athachamayam procession on this day. This marks the commencement of preparations for the visit of Mahabali to his kingdom. Subsequently, people artfully lay out a Pookalam consisting solely of yellow petals. This Pookalam, known as Athapoo, comprises a single layer, progressively evolving with each passing day of Onam. People adorn courtyards in front of homes with statues of Mahabali and Vamana on dung-plastered surfaces.

    2. Chithira (21 August 2023)

    During the second day of Onam, people incorporate two additional layers of orange and creamy yellow flowers into the Pookalam. They also thoroughly clean their homes and visit temples on this day.

    3. Chodhi (22 August 2023)

    On the third day of Onam, people wear new clothes, referred to as Onakkodi. Women grace themselves in Kasavi sarees, men opt for mundus, and young girls don Pattu Pavada. Families engage in shopping and exchange precious jewels and clothing. The Pookalam also gains a new layer of flowers.

    4. Vishakam (23 August 2023)

    This day holds great auspiciousness as preparations for the sumptuous Onasadya commence. Women of the household procure ingredients from markets, often bustling with harvest sales, transforming Kerala markets into lively hubs. Families assemble a lavish spread of 26 to 30 dishes for the Onasadya feast, symbolizing the delightful art of filling a plantain leaf to its utmost capacity.

    5. Anizham (24 August 2023)

    The Snake Boat Races, or Vallamkali, launch on the Pamba River, coinciding with the expansion of the Pookalam.

    6. Thriketa (25 August 2023)

    New blooms grace the Pookalam, and families journey to their ancestral homes, sharing moments and exchanging tokens of affection.

    7. Moolam (26 August 2023)

    Many temples commence the offering of Onasadya on this day. Families prepare a condensed version of the elaborate feast. The Pulikali and Kaikottukali dances enliven various corners of Kerala, casting a vibrant and celebratory atmosphere.

    8. Pooradam (27 August 2023)

    The day begins with the ceremonial placement of Mahabali and Vamana clay statues, also known as Onathappam, at the heart of the Pookalam. These statues symbolize Mahabali and beckon his presence into each home. The Pookalam has blossomed into a more intricate and elaborate design.

    9. Uthradam (28 August 2023)

    This day signifies the pinnacle of Onam preparations. Devotees gear up to welcome King Mahabali on the following day.

    10. Uthradam/First Onam (28 August 2023)

    On the eve of Onam, known as the First Onam, people consider it particularly auspicious to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. According to tradition, they believe that Mahabali returns to Kerala on this day. Therefore, they meticulously clean their homes and undertake the final Onam shopping.

    11. Thiruvonam Onam (29 August 2023)

    On the central day of the Onam festival, people characterize it by applying rice flour batter at the entryways as a customary sign of welcome. People indulge in refreshing showers, don new attire, and extend alms to the less fortunate. On this day, people believe that King Mahabali graces every household in Kerala, bestowing blessings. They perfect the Pookalam and families unite to relish the grand Onasadya feast.

    Post-Onam Celebrations

    While Thiruvonam commands the spotlight, the following days—Avittom (third Onam) and Chatayam (fourth Onam)—retain their significance within the spectrum of Onam. They are setting preparations in motion for Mahabali’s departure, along with clearing the Pookalam. They immerse the clay statues of Onathappan in rivers or seas. In some regions of Kerala, the Vallamkali boat races and the Pulikali tiger dance continue to captivate.

    Onam transcends its identity as a solely Keralite festival; its celebration spans states and nations, transcending caste and creed. The Malayali diaspora in countries like the UAE, USA, and Singapore actively engages in the festivities. Despite occasional playful disputes over the last remnants of Payasam (sweet dessert), Onam is a harmonious, joyous, and exuberant celebration.


    At present, Onam 2023 is being celebrated with a great pomp and show. The festival is to last 10 joyful days, filled with traditions like Pookalams, boat races, and delicious food. This year, technology has joined the fun, bringing faraway friends closer. Eco-friendly ideas bloomed, too, making the celebrations kind to nature. Onam connected people worldwide, showing that happiness knows no borders. As the festival winds down, it will prove that tradition and new ideas can be great friends, creating memories people will forever treasure.

    Happy Onam!

    Also Read: 6 Classic Must Try Indian Diwali Delicacies for 2022

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    Josie Patra
    Josie Patra is a veteran writer with 21 years of experience. She comes with multiple degrees in literature, computer applications, multimedia design, and management. She delves into a plethora of niches and offers expert guidance on finances, stock market, budgeting, marketing strategies, and such other domains. Josie has also authored books on management, productivity, and digital marketing strategies.

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