onam festival

As the monsoon bids adieu, the harvest season is welcomed with huge zest and fervour. Onam, one of the famous festivals of India, is celebrated annually during the same time. The 10-day long festival is marked as the homecoming of the legendry Mahabali, who sacrificed his life for his kingdom. The festival is mainly celebrated in Kerala. Though it is believed to be a Hindu festival, but people from all religions participate in the festivities. Scroll down to know the importance, history and cultural activities associated with this harvest festival. We have also curated Onam festival wishes in English and Malyalayam that you can share with your friends and families to wish them Happy Onam.

Significance of Onam Festival

Celebrated as the harvest festival in Kerala and the Malayalis community across the globe, Onam is one of the important Hindu festivals. The festival is regarded as New Year Day for Malayalis. It is celebrated during Chingam (August and September), which is considered to be the New Year by Malayalee communities. It is one of the longest celebrated festivals; its festivities take place for ten days known as Atham, Chithira, Chodhi, Vishakam, Anizham, Thriketa, Moolam, Pooradam, Uthradam, and Thiruvonam.  This year the festivities will commence on 30 August and conclude on 8 Sept. The first and last day of the festival is known to be very auspicious. It is believed that the ancient festival has been celebrated since the Sangam period, and back then, Onam was celebrated for a month. There are many legends associated with this festival. Amongst them, the Mahabali legend holds more prominence.

Legend Associated With Onam

According to one of the legends, Onam is celebrated in order to mark the welcome of the former king Mahabali. He was the great-grandson of a demon, Hiranyakashipu and grandson of Prahlada. This links the festival to the Puranic mythology of Prahlada of Holika fame in Hinduism, whose father Hiranyakashipu planned to kill him since he was a huge devotee of Lord Vishnu, which was not liked by the demon Hiranyakashipu. He asked his sister Holika to kill him, but the Lord saved Prahlada and Holika was killed.

Prahlada’s grandson, Mahabali, was generous like him. He defeated Devas and took over three worlds.  If Vaishnavism mythology is to be believed, the defeated Devas approached Vishnu to seek help in order to defeat Mahabali. On winning three worlds, Mahabali performed a Yajna and promised that he would grand a request of anyone during the Yajna.

On this, Vishnu took a dwarf avatar, Vamana and met Mahabali. The king offered him huge wealth, but the dwarf asked him for three paced in the land, to which Mahabali agreed. Vamana grew into an enormous size and covered whatever Mahabali had (including his kingdom) in two spaces. For the third space, the king offered his head to the Lord, which made lord Vishnu happy, and he blessed him with the power to visit his kingdom every year. His annual visit is marked as the Onam festival!

Cultural Events During Onam Festivals

The festival is celebrated for 10 days with zest and vigour. Many cultural events and rituals are performed along with authentic cuisines to make the festival special. The first day of the festivities, The Atham day, marks the beginning of the festival at Vamanamoorthy Thrikkakara temple (Kochi), where the festival’s flag is hoisted, parades and many cultural activities take place. On subsequent days following activities are conducted. During the celebration, both men and women are dressed in traditional dresses-Kerala sari or Kasavu.

1.  Tripunithura Athachamayam

tripunithura athachamayam

The grand Onam celebration starts procession at Thrippunithura. The parade features marching of the elephants, drum beats, folks art forms etc. The parade represents scenes from epics like Mahabharata and the Ramayana, and even Bible. Then devotees offer prayer in the temple.

2. Pookalam (Flower Rangoli)


Onapookkalam or  Pookkalam is a floral Rangoli made at the temple’s entrance. It resembles a floral mat. People draw mesmerising Onam Pookalam designs and extend them with each passing day. Big lamps of brace or statue of Mahabali is placed in the middle of the rangoli. This ritual is performed on the first day of the festivities. In order to welcome the festival, people dance alongside the rangoli.

3. Pulikali: The Grand Tiger Dance


Pulikali refers to the tiger dance. The former king of Cochi started this ritual. The performers paint themselves like Tigers and dance to the beats. This folk art is mainly performed in the Thrissur district. The festival also showcases activities like Kathakali, Thiruvathira, Chakyar Koothu, Uttam Thullal, and Patekar. During the festival, major cities like Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Thrissur are lit up with lights and impressive fireworks displays. No festivity is complete without good food- People prepare Onam Sadya feasts and relish the cuisine with mind-blowing activities. Onam Sadya is a nine-course meal that features 11-13 traditional dishes.

4. Vallamkali: The Snake Boat Race


Another activity synonymous with the Onam festival is -The Snake Boat Race, called Vallamkali. The snake boat race takes place in the Pampa River. It also includes the Aranmula Uthrattathi and Nehru Trophy Boat races. During the boat race, people sing, play huge drums and enjoy the boat’s festivities.

5. Folk Music and Dances

folk music and dances

No festival is complete without entertainment. Onam calls for folk music and dances that are performed each day. Some of the traditional dance forms you would get to see during the festival are, Kummattikali, Pulikali, Thumbi Thullal, Onam Kali, Thiruvathira, Onam Kali, Kathakali and many others.

Post-Onam Activities

Though Thiruvonam is the 10th and last day of the festival, the two days after the 10th day are regarded as the Third and Fourth Onam. The Third day- Avvittom, is known to be the last day of the King Mahabali and preparations are made for his return to heaven. One of the most significant rituals of the day is removing the lamps, a statue of the Onathappan installed in the middle of floral rangoli (Pokallam), and then immersing it in the river along with the flowers of rangoli.

Happy Onam: Best Wishes for the Festival of Harvest

happy onam

1. I wish that this Onam fills your home and heart with happiness and joy! Happy Onam!

2. May the spirit of Onam bless you and your family. I hope that they guide you to success in your life. Happy Onam!

3. May this auspicious festival and New Year bring happiness and prosperity to you. Here’s wishing you a very Happy Onam!

4. Sending you my heart-warming greetings and blessings on this Onam. May King Mahabali’s spirit always guide you. Happy Onam!

5. It is time to celebrate the harvest festival and welcome King Mahabali! Let’s decorate our homes with pookalams and make delicacies, keeping the festival’s spirit alive. Happy Onam!

6. This Onam, I pray to King Mahabali to bless you and your family with good health and happiness. Happy Onam!

7. I hope your life is as colourful as pookalam and abundant with happiness like the Onam Sadhya. On this festival of Onam, I wish you happiness and good health. Happy Onam to you and your family!

8. Colorful pookalam, Mouthwatering dishes, On this Onam, Here’s sending you my heartfelt wishes.

9. A festival of togetherness, homecoming, celebration, and fun, Here’s a Happy Onam wish, To each and every one. Happy Onam!

10. Celebration, Happiness and Prosperity are sent to you today. I wish you a very Happy Onam. May health and wealth come your way.

11. May the color and lights of Onam fill your home with happiness and joy. My heartiest wishes to you and your family on the eve of Onam!

12. May the bright colours and soothing fragrance of the Pookolam and lights of the Vilakku fill your life with happiness and joy. Here’s wishing you and your family a very Happy Onam.

13. Onam festivities are all about happiness, peace, prosperity and oneness. Here’s wishing you a life that’s filled with joy and wealth aplenty.

14. May you be blessed with good health, wealth, peace, joy and prosperity on the joyous occasion of Onam.

15. The air is filled with joy and zeal. It’s colourful everywhere. Homes are adorned with colourful embellishments. But I hope that Onam is not just about that. I hope that the spirit of Onam fills your heart with happiness and fulfilment.

Happy Onam Wishes in Malayalam Language

onam wishes in malayalam

1. ”തുമ്പയും തുളസിയും മുക്കുത്തിപ്പൂവും

പിന്നെ മനസിൽ നിറയെ ആഹ്ലാദവുമായി പൊന്നോണം വരവായി…

ഹൃദയം നിറഞ്ഞ ഓണാശംസകൾ”

2. ‘നാട്ടിലും വീട്ടിലും ആരവങ്ങൾ ചാര്‍ത്തി

ഒരിക്കൽകൂടി പൊന്നോണം എത്തി

മാവേലിമന്നനെ വരവേൽക്കാൻ നാടും വീടും ഒരുങ്ങി ഓണാശംസകൾ…”

3. സ്നേഹം വെറും പുഞ്ചിരിയുടെ പളുങ്കു പാത്രമല്ല..

ഹൃദയ വിശുദ്ധിയുടെയും ആത്മാര്‍ത്ഥയുടെയും..

ദര്‍പ്പണമാണ് സ്നേഹം …

4. തുമ്പപ്പൂവിൻ മനോഹാരിതയിൽ പൂക്കളമൊരുക്കീടാൻ

ഒരു പൊന്നോണക്കാലംകൂടി… ഓണാശംസകൾ’‘

5. നാട്ടിലും വീട്ടിലും ആരവങ്ങൾ ചാർത്തി വീണ്ടും ഒരു പൊന്നോണം…മാവേലി മന്നനെ വരവേൽക്കാൻ നാടും വീടും ഒരുങ്ങുന്ന വേളയിൽ നിങ്ങൾക്കായി ഒരായിരം ഓണാശംസകൾ…

6. വീണ്ടുമൊരു പൊന്നോണം വരവായി പൂക്കളവും ഓണച്ചന്തയും വള്ളംകളിയും കേരളക്കരയില്‍ അങ്ങോളമിങ്ങോളം

മാവേലി നാടു വാണിടും കാലം മാനുഷരെല്ലാരും ഒന്നുപോലെ

ആ കാലത്തിന്റെ ഓര്‍ത്തുകൊണ്ടു എല്ലാവര്‍ക്കും ഹൃദയം നിറഞ്ഞ ഓണാശംസകള്‍…

7. സമത്വ സുന്ദരമായ മാവേലി നാടിനായി ൈകകോർക്കാം എല്ലാ

ആഘോഷങ്ങളും മനുഷ്യ മനസ്സില് നൻമയുടെ തിരികൊളുത്തട്ടെ..

“എല്ലാ കൂട്ടുകാര്ക്കും എന്റെ ഹൃദയം നിറഞ്ഞ


8. ഐശ്വര്യവും,സമൃദ്ധിയും നിറഞ്ഞ നല്ല നാളുകള്‍ എന്നും ഉണ്ടാവട്ടെ

മനസ്സില്‍ സ്നേഹത്തിന്റെ ഒരു ഓണവുമായി

എന്റെ ഒരായിരം ഓണാശംസകള്‍

9. ഐശ്വര്യവും സമൃദ്ധിയും നിറഞ്ഞ നല്ല നാളുകൾ വരട്ടെ…

ഒപ്പം മനസ്സിൽ സ്നേഹത്തിന്റെ ഒരു നല്ല ഓണവും….


10. ആമോധത്തിന്റെയും സമ്രിതിയുടെയും

ഐശ്വര്യത്തിന്റെയും വസന്തകാലം ഓണംn എല്ലാ മലയാളികള്‍ക്കും എന്റെ ഹൃദയം നിറഞ്ഞ ഓണാശംസകള്‍


Onam is one of the main festivals celebrated in Kerala. The festival is extended to 10 days, during which people participate in traditional boat races, draw floral rangolis, relish authentic food, and share Onam wishes. Post the 10th day, the rangoli flowers, Diya, etc., are immersed in the river as a goodbye to the legendry Mahabali.


1. How Is Onam Celebrated?

Onam is a ten-day festival that marks the homecoming of the Mahabali. People prepare Pookalam (rangoli of flowers) and place lamps and idols of the king in the middle. The ten days are celebrated with zest and vigour.

2. Where Is Onam Celebrated?

Onam is the main festival of Kerala. It is also celebrated by the Malyallese community across the globe.

3. Why Do We Celebrate Onam?

Onam is a harvest festival! It is also celebrated to welcome King Mahabali.

4. Which Legendary King Is Associated With Onam?

The grandson of Prahlada, Mahabali, is associated with the festival of Onam.

5. How many days is Onam celebrated?

Onam is celebrated for ten days. After it, the rangoli flowers, along with the lamps and statues of Mahabali, are immersed in the river to bid him adieu.

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