Rituals of Onam

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Onam Rituals and Indian Festivals

Onam Rituals and festivals in India

Onam is a festival of festive celebrations. New clothes are bought on this day and people indulge themselves in dances and sports. The number of days of the festival range from four to ten days, depending on the region. The children and the youth join in the mirth of the season and set about collecting flowers early morning to decorate the yards of their houses for the ten days of the festival, starting from Atham to Thiruvonam. The native flower carpet known as 'onapookalam' is the highlight of these decorations and there are specifications of the type of flowers to be used on each day of the festival. Today the artistic and skilful decoration of the traditional 'pookkalams' is being lost into obscurity.

On the day of Utradam, ninth day since the beginning of the festival, houses are well cleaned and decorated and gala feasts are arranged. Then the images of deities and cones made up of sticky clay painted red are placed there. They are known as 'Trikkakara Appan'. These images are adorned with lines tastefully drawn with rice flour mixed with water and then they are worshipped. After the 'puja', the male members raise loud rhythmic shouts of joy known as 'Aarppu Vilikkukal'.
The next day is the main day of Onam where new clothes are given as presents followed by a grand feast. On the ninth day, tenants of the family, dependants and hangers-on present the fruits of their labour, such as vegetables and coconut oil to 'Karanavar', the eldest member of the Tarawad in a ritual called 'Onakazhcha'. In return, they are treated with a sumptuous feast on the main day of Onam. It is also customary for the village artisans to present the Karanavar of each Nayar Tarawad, a specimen of his handiwork in return of the presents of cloth or rice.



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