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Onam 2023: History, Significance, Observance and Importance

Published Date: 10-Dec-2022

One of the major festivals celebrated by Malayali Hindu community, Onam marks the beginning of the annual harvest season in the southern parts of India. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm and accompanied by multiple festivities throughout Kerala and is treated as the official state festival. As per the Malayalam calendar, the festival is celebrated in the first month of Chingam, which overlaps with August-September in the Gregorian calendar. In 2023, the festivities of Onam will begin on 20th August (Sunday) and conclude on 31th August (Thursday).

Onam: History and Significance

Onam 2022 | History and Significance

Onam 2023 | History and Significance

According to legends, Onam is celebrated to commemorate the arrival of King Mahabali from Patala. The story goes that the demon King Mahabali who ruled in Kerala was loved by all for his generosity and kindness. This threatened the Gods and they sought Lord Vishnu’s help who disguised himself as a poor Brahmin and headed to Kerala. He asked the king to give him land that can be covered within three feet and Mahabali granted his wish. Soon, the Brahmin started to grow in size and covered the sky and earth with his first and second step. Before he could take his third step, the king offered his head for the last step which led him to Patala. However, the king was granted a blessing for his good deeds to visit his people once every year. Onam marks the day of his annual visit to Earth.

Onam Celebrations across India

Onam 2022 | Celebrations across India

Onam 2023 | Celebrations across India

Although Onam is a significant festival for Malayali Hindus, all communities in Kerala celebrate this festival with great zeal. The celebrations of Onam go on for 10 days and include multiple colourful events, starting with Atthachamayam featuring a street parade with folk songs and dance, carnival floats and decorated elephants walking down the roads. Other festivities include Pookalam (flower arrangement), Pulikali (masked tiger dance), Vallamkali (snake boat race) and other traditional arts and games. Onam Sadya, a nine-course traditional feast, is prepared on the 11th day to honour the return of the king and the next day, the clay pyramids representing the king called Onathappan are immersed in water and the pookalams are wiped out. The activities continue for one more day.

Places to Observe Onam in India

  • Thiruvananthapuram
  • Kochi
  • Thrissur

Other Festivals in India with Holiday Type

Festivals in India Day Date Holiday Type
New Year Sunday 1 January Public
Lohri Saturday 14 January Restricted
Makar Sankranti Saturday 14 January Restricted
Pongal Sunday 15 January Restricted
Basant Panchmi Thursday 26 January Restricted
Republic Day Thursday 26 January Public
Guru Ravidass Jayanti Sunday 5 February Restricted
Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati Jayanti Wednesday 15 February Restricted
Mahashivratri Saturday 18 February Restricted
Losar Tuesday 21 February Restricted
Holi Wednesday 8 March Public
Ram Navami Thursday 30 March Restricted
Mahavir Jayanti Tuesday 4 April Restricted
Good Friday Friday 7 April Public
Easter Sunday 9 April Restricted
Vaisakhi Friday 14 April Restricted
Eid Ul Fitr Saturday 22 April Public
Buddha Purnima Friday 5th May Public
Rabindra Jayanti Tuesday 9 May Restricted
Rath Yatra Tuesday 20 June Restricted
Eid Al Adha Thursday 29 June Restricted
Muharram Saturday 29 July Public
Independence Day Tuesday 15 August Public
Parsi New Year Navroz Wednesday 16 August Restricted
Raksha Bandhan Wednesday 30 August Restricted
Janmashtami Thursday 7 September Restricted
Ganesh Chaturthi Tuesday 19 September Restricted
Id E Milad Thursday September 28 Public
Gandhi Jayanti Monday 2 October Public
Dussehra Tuesday 24 October Public
Valmiki Jayanti Saturday 28 October Restricted
Karva Chauth Tuesday 31 October Restricted
Diwali Sunday 12 November Public
Bhai Dooj Tuesday 14 November Restricted
Chhath Puja Sunday 19 November Restricted
Guru Nanak Jayanti Monday 27 November Public
Christmas Monday 25 December Public
Sargun Preet Kaur
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