The essence of India is synonymous with its diversity and vibrance. From its range of cultures and religions to languages and festivals, you can experience it all. Plan your trip to India any time of the year and you will be greeted by the country folks celebrating some or the other religious, cultural or patriotic festival. Festivals in India are so prominent that each state has dedicated official festivals to their name. The official favourite and most awaited festival of Kerala is the Onam Festival. Read on to learn in detail about the Onam Festival 2023. 

Onam Festival 2023

Onam celebrations in Kerala
Onam celebrations in Kerala
Image Credit: Zee Business/PTI

Every year, as Onam approaches, there’s an excitement in the air that’s hard to contain. Onam is not just a festival; It’s a time when Kerala showcases its vibrant side to the world, inviting everyone to partake in its cultural abundance. The Onam Festival is the most prominent festival for Keralites. They celebrate it with much pomp and flair. According to the Malayalam calendar, the Hindu festival of Onam falls in the first month, Chingam, i.e. August-September.  

Onam Festival 2023 Dates

The 10 days long Onam Festival 2023 will commence on 20th August 2023, Sunday. It will end on 31st August 2023, Thursday. The main date of celebration of the Onam 2023 will be 29th August 2023, Tuesday. 

Significance of Onam

Welcoming the demon King Mahabali
Image Credit:

There is not one but several reasons for Onam celebrations. The Onam festival in India is a celebration to mark the return of the Demon King Mahabali to Kerala, in mythology. Secondly, it celebrates the end of the monsoon season and the beginning of the harvest season. The 10 days harvest festival of Kerala is a celebration of Kerala’s tradition and culture. 

Celebrating 10 Days of Onam

Atham – The first day of Onam starts with early bathing and visiting the temples. The first layer of Pookkalam is made on this day to greet King Mahabali. Celebrations begin with the Athachamayam parade and placing of statues of Mahabali and Vamana in courtyards. 

Chithira – A second layer is added to the Pookkalam and people start cleaning their houses. 

Chudai – Another layer of flowers is added to the Pookkalam. People usually start shopping for traditional attires and jewellery by now. 

Vishakam – By now, the preparations are in full swing. Markets start selling harvest sales and everyone’s busy stocking up ingredients for Onam Sadya. 

Anizham – The Pookkalam gets bigger with another layer of flowers. It’s a day of fun as the Vallamkali or boat race is held on the Pampa River. 

Thriketta – Adding another layer of flowers to the Pookkalam, people completely get in the holiday spirit. It’s time to visit families with gifts and spending time. 

Moolam – By now Onam celebrations are in full swing. Temples start offering Onasady and families get together. Dance and pomp can be seen starting all over Kerala. 

Pooradam – On this day, once another layer of fresh flowers is added to the floral rangoli. The clay statues- ‘Onathappan’ are installed in the centre. 

Uthradam – All the house cleaning and shopping is done by now. Devotees are now ready to welcome King Mahabali. 

Thiruvonam – It is the tenth and final day of the Onam festival. Everybody is decked up in new clothes and is ready to welcome King Mahabali. According to mythology, King Mahabali visits and blesses every house on this day. People visit temples, donate to the poor, families get together to feast on Onam Sadya. There are folk music and dance performances and lively environment and fireworks all around. 

This is how the 10 days harvest festival of Kerala, the Onam festival, is celebrated. 

Here are 6 reasons why we love the vibrant Festival of Onam. 

1. The Mouth-Watering Onam Sadhya Spread

Onam festival 2023- Onam Sadhya
A scrumptious Onam Sadhya
Image Credit: Hindustan Times

Onam equals feast time and the Onam Sadhya is quite looked forward to. Onam Sadha is a mix of traditional Kerala vegetarian dishes. About 15 dishes are served on a banana leaf and the right way to devour it is with your hands. Dishes include rasam, aviyal, sambhar, pulisseri, olan, payasam, pradhaman, etc. A Sadhya is the best culinary experience for those who want to try the varied cuisines of India. 

2. Kasavu Sarees

Onam festival 2023- Kasavu Sarees
Traditional Kasavu Sarees
Image Credit: The News Minute

Speak of a Keralite woman and you may imagine a woman wearing a white saree with golden borders. The elegance of this simple yet gorgeous saree is elevated by gold jewellery and a gajra in the hair. The traditional Kasavu sarees are a symbol of South Indian traditional garments and women wear them with much grace to celebrate the special occasion of Onam. 

3. Pookkalam (Flower Rangoli)

onam festival 2023- Pookkalam
An intricate Pookkalam design
Image Credit:
The Hindu/ K. Ragesh

An elaborate Rangoli made with flower petals during Onam is called a Pookkalam. These are usually made in the courtyards or outside homes. The Pookkalam is made gradually through the 10 days of Onam. With each layer being added each day and adorned with auspicious elements like the ‘Onathappan’. 

4. Vallamkali (Snake Boat Race)

Vallamkali- Snake Boat Race
Vallamkali- Snake Boat Race
Image Credit: The Hindu

The Vallamkali or popularly known as the ‘Snake Boat Race’ is famous all over the world. There are several of these races held in water bodies all over Kerala. Some of the popular ones are the Aranmula Boat Race and the Nehru Trophy Boat Race. Thousands gather to watch and cheer for the boat races and it is a fun-filled experience. 

5. Athachamayam 

Onam parade- Athachamayam 
The vibrant Onam parade- Athachamayam 
Image Credit: Times of India

The splendid celebration of Athachamayam marks the beginning of the 10 days celebration of Onam. This march is a grand display of almost all folk art forms like narrative dramatics, folk dances, street plays and performances held on the streets of Kerala.  

6. Onam Ashamsakal

Onam Celebrations. Ready to welcome King Mahabali
Image Credit: Hindustan Times/Pratham Gokhale

The traditional way of giving someone Onam greetings is called ‘Onam Ashamsakal’. With these Onam greetings, families shower each other with blessings to find happiness, joy, wealth, prosperity and abundance. 

These reasons are enough to make you fall in love with this festival and plan a trip to Kerala to experience the cultural extravaganza, vibrant traditions, and sumptuous feasts of Onam in the heart of God’s Own Country.

The holiday season during Onam allows people to take a break from their routines, relax, and recharge. Looking for the most authentic Onam experiences? Visit the ‘Country of Gods’ and you will fall in love not only with this festival but the beauty of this state. From mesmerizing pookalams to the yummy Sadhya, this is your chance to be part of a truly unique experience. Onam Festival 2023 is coming soon! Grab the cheapest flight tickets and book hotels online for Kerala’s embrace is waiting to make your journey unforgettable.

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