Onam commemorates the Vamana Avatar of Vishnu.


Festivities trigger in all Keralite homes in the Malayalam month of Chingam (August-September).The Atham day marks the beginning of the Onam festival. Intricate floral carpets called Pookalam or Athapoo are laid with small yellow flowers to welcome king Maha Bali. It is believed that Maha Bali starts his preparations for his descend from heaven to God’s own land. A grand procession called Athachamyam starts off at Thiruppunithura to mark the beginning of the Onam carnival.


The Pookalam is expanded with two different coloured flowers. The cleaning of the household and preparations for the Thiruonam day begins on this day.


The Pookalam starts growing in size on this day . People start their Onam shopping frenzy on this day. People buy new clothes and jewellery for Onam on the third day.


This is reckoned as the most auspicious day of Onam probably only next to the Thiruonam day. Many contests like the Pookalam design competions begin on this day. In the past, the harvest sale was done on this day.


This day marks the beginning of Snake Boat Race called Vallam Kali in many parts of Kerala. Boats are oared in rhythm with Vanchipattu


The Pookalam will be large by this time and people will be busy doing their final shopping for Onam day. It marks the beginning of home coming of people away from their homes.


With just two days for the year long wait to see Maha Bali, there is mirth everywhere and the Pookalam is made in a new design with gaiety. Smaller versions of Onam Sadhya are served on this day. Festivities including Puli Kali and Kaikotti Kali are performed in many parts.


Installation of Onatthappan (statues of Maha Bali and Vamana in the centre of Pookalam smeared with rice flour batter. House cleaning operations are done with great care that everything is tidy to welcome Onatthappan.


The penultimate day of Onam is considered an auspicious day for purchasing fruits, vegetables and other provisions for the Thiruonam. Uthradapachil, the last minute shopping frenzy, is a coinage associated with this day. It is called first Onam because Mahabali descends to Kerala and spends the next four days touring his erstwhile kingdim and showering his blessings on his subjects.


It is ‘the’ biggest and most auspicious of all days for any Malayali. People wake up early and  garb themselves in new clothes. Very large Pookalam welcomes Maha Bali. Special prayers are offered in temples. The strictly-vegetarian Onam Sadhya comprising of 11-13 mandatory dishes is served in large plantain leaves. Post lunch people engage in Onam games and visiting family and friends.



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