Kerala’s 10-Day Onam Celebrations 2023: Embracing Unity Against Communalism
As Onam 2023 unfolds in Kerala, the state’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the Nishagandhi Auditorium in Thiruvananthapuram district, marking the commencement of the State Tourism’s Onam cultural festival. The festival, spanning 10 days, began on August 20 and is set to conclude on August 31 this year.
Embracing Inclusivity and Harmony
Highlighting the distinctiveness of Onam as a festival that embodies inclusivity and togetherness, Tourism Minister P.A. Mohamed Riyas noted that this year’s central theme is “Onam, the symphony of harmony.” The festival’s core values reflect Kerala’s commitment to celebrating unity and shared values.
Cultural Extravaganza in Kannur
Simultaneously, in Kerala’s Kannur district, the ‘Ponnonam 2023’ Onam celebrations were inaugurated by Kerala Legislative Assembly Speaker A.N Shamseer. The event, organized by the Kannur District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC), featured a plethora of performances including flash mobs, aksharslokam (traditional verses), folk songs, group dances, mega thiruvathira (traditional dance), and mohiniyattam (classical dance form).
Festivals as Unifying Forces
During the event in Kannur, the speaker of the Kerala Legislative Assembly emphasized the role of festivals like Onam in fostering unity and acting as a counterforce against communalism. Festivals become platforms that bridge divides and strengthen the social fabric.
Thiru-Onam: A Grand Affair
The 10-day-long Onam festivities, also known as Thiru-Onam or Thiruvonam, envelop Kerala in a joyous atmosphere. Rooted in the legend of King Mahabali’s homecoming, the celebrations are enriched with narratives and myths that define the spirit of the festival.
A Festive Sequence: Significance of Thiruvonam
Starting with Atham and continuing through Chodhi, Vishakam, Anizham, Thriketa, Moolam, Pooradam, and Uthradam, the crescendo of Thiruvonam marks the pinnacle of celebrations. Families gather to relish the grand Onasadya feast, a culmination of the festive fervor.
Onam and the Malayalam Calendar
Onam falls in the Chingam month, which heralds the onset of the Malayalam calendar and the Malayalam New Year called Kolla Varsham. Beyond its festive aspects, Onam holds cultural and historical significance as it celebrates the return of the revered King Mahabali, also known as Maveli, to Kerala.
The Tale of King Mahabali
Legend has it that King Mahabali, a benevolent ruler, defeated the Gods and ruled all realms. Concerned about his popularity, the Gods sought Lord Vishnu’s intervention, leading to Vishnu’s avatar as the Brahmin dwarf Vamana. This tale underlines the essence of the festival.
Floral Carpets and Cultural Celebrations
To welcome Mahabali, people create intricate floral carpets called Pookkalam in front of their homes and institutions. Festive fervor pervades schools, universities, offices, and various locations as celebrations of diverse forms kick off, painting Kerala in vibrant hues.
Commemorating Unity and Legacy
As Onam 2023 unfolds, Kerala’s embrace of inclusivity, harmony, and cultural richness comes to the forefront. The festival’s festivities, symbols, and legends serve as a reminder of the state’s commitment to unity, shared heritage, and the legacy of King Mahabali.