The 10 days of Onam: What Do Each Day Represent?

Over the course of ten days, Onam is observed with prayers, boat races, dance, and Pookaalam also known as Flower Carpets. But what does each day signify?


On the first day, families often begin creating their Pookaalam designs by arranging flower petals on the ground in front of their houses. Each day of the festival will see additions to the design.


The Pookaalam receives two more layers of orange and yellow blossoms the following day. The ten sacred flowers of Kerala are used to make Pookaalam traditionally, however many different flowers are utilised.


Another layer of flowers is laid on Chodhi, and families buy new clothing for one another. The men buy a Mundu, a garment worn around the waist, while the women don Kasavu Saris, a traditional Kerala clothing.


The Onam Sadhya, the centrepiece of the festival, begins with Vishakam. A nine-course feast called Onam Sadhya is served on a banana leaf and consists of 11 to 13 traditional foods.


The annual Vallamkali (Snake Boat Race) takes place on this day. People gather around to watch and support their team. Well-known races include the Aranmula Uthrattathi and the Nehru Trophy Boat Race.


People who have relocated to different areas would go back to their ancestral houses on the sixth day to celebrate with their loved ones. They exchange gifts and also add fresh flowers to Pookaalam.


Families will visit one another on Moolam and create a scaled-down version of the Onam Sadya, a vegetarian feast. Hindu temples in Kerala serve the Onam sadya from this day.


People make Ma, a miniature pyramid-shaped clay idol made by devotees. The idol is also known as Poorada Uttigal because it was made on the day of Pooradam.


Onam preparations are at their most intensive on this festival day. Legend has it that King Mahabali arrives in Kerala on this day. People clean their homes and take part in one more round of Onam shopping.


On the final day of the festival, Thiruvonam, sees the customary welcome sign of rice flour batter being put to home gates. Along with wearing their new clothing, many give to the less fortunate.

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