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Major festival of Kerala - Onam by Leisure Tours - the best Kerala Tour Operator

The Colourful Festival of Kerala - Onam

Onam - The Colourful Fiesta of Kerala

An insight into Onam, a major festival of Kerala

Onam brings in the hearts of every Keralite a feeling of togetherness and happiness. With time though the ways in which this festival is celebrated have changed, this is still one of the ancient festivals that has survived, till today. Though, Onam is the harvest festival of Kerala, it is renowned as the time when King Mahabali visits Kerala from the underworld (Pathala).

The legend behind the festival

During Onam, it is believed that the Asura king, king Mahabali visits his subjects. According to the legend, king Mahabali was one of the most generous and kind king beloved by all his subjects. According to belief, during the reign of king Mahabali, all the lands that he ruled and his subjects within it prospered- with peace, love and harmony everywhere [there is an interesting song describing the life of the people during his reign- “Maveli nadu vaneedum kaalam…”]. Gradually, Mahabali became so powerful that he ruled both the heavens and the earth. The other Gods saw the king’s growth as a threat and envious of his prosperity, rushed to Lord Vishnu for help and this he agreed. Lord Vishnu then took the form of the Brahmin boy, Vamana who visited King Mahabali where he performed a sacrificial rite. King Mahabali promised the boy three paces of land equivalent to the size of his feet which the boy had requested. Vamana then grew in size, overlooking the heavens. With his first and the second footsteps he secured both the heaven and earth. For the third, he placed his foot on the head of king Mahabali as per his request for; there was no other piece of land left. Thus, king Mahabali was sent to ‘Pathala’- the underworld. He was granted a wish which was that he could visit his subjects once every year. The homecoming of king Mahabali is celebrated as Onam in Kerala.

Onam - The 10 day fiesta

The festival of Onam is a long one that lasts for 10 days; starting from the first day on ‘Atham’ and ending on the tenth day ‘Thiruvonam’. The festival is celebrated during the beginning of ‘Chingam’, the first month of the Malayalam calendar. The ten days of celebration are Atham, Chithira, Chodi, Vishakam, Anizham, Thriketa, Moolam, Pooradam, Uthradom and Thiruvonam; with each day having its own unique significance.

The Major activities and enchanting features of Onam

Onam is a colourful festival which is celebrated by all with great pomp. It is the time of enjoyment for all. Playing games, singing Onam songs, pookalam, onasadhya- all are traditions that keep the spirit of Onam alive.

Pookalam – It is the floral mat made using different types of flowers. It is one of the major features that adds colour to the festival.

Pookalam made during Onam

Onam Sadhya – There is in fact no Onam without an Onam sadhya. The food and the curries are served on the banana leaf and the number of dishes; including the curries and the desserts may go up to 30!

Ona Sadhya

Dance and Music – traditional dance forms during Onam include Thiruvathirakali, Pulikali, Kummattikali, Thumbi thullal, etc.


Velamkali – This is the traditional snake boat race. One of the well-known boat races includes the Nehru Trophy Boat Race.

Buying and wearing new clothes, laying out pookalam, singing Onam songs and playing Onam games Keralites welcome their Mahabali and celebrate the grand festival Onam.

Travelling is another great way to celebrate. Planning a trip together with all your loved ones can gift beautiful memories that could be cherished for a lifetime! Being one of the best tour operators in Kerala, Leisure Tours has carefully designed travel itineraries that would suit the needs of each traveller. Two of the new tour packages, Kerala Special Festival Tour Package and Pooja – Diwali Special Kerala Tour Package covers up the major travel destinations in Kerala. The tour packages have a well-planned travel itinerary to give one the best holiday experience at the best rates. Leisure Tours also helps you in planning up your tour. All you have to do is write to us at!

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