Onam, Kerala's yearly harvest festival, is also used to welcome the demon king, Mahabali.
The festival will take place from August 12 to August 23 this year.
The major festivities will take place on August 21.
Onam 2021: Kerala celebrates the harvest holiday ‘Onam' every year. The festival is held in the month of Chingam, which occurs between August and September on the Gregorian calendar. This year's Onam festival will take place from August 12 to August 23. The major festivities will take place on August 21.
This day is said to be the yearly return of the renowned king Mahabali, according to ancient manuscripts. Onam Eve, also known as Uthraadam, is said to be the first day of Onam. On this day, King Mahabali returned to Kerala for the first time. Every day has a unique meaning in relation to celebrations.
August 12, Atham: On the first day of Onam, yellow flowers known as Pookalam are used to decorate the house.
August 13, Chithira: People clean their whole houses on the second day of the celebration, adding another layer of flowers to the Pookalam.
August 14, Chodi: On the third day of Onam, family members gather to distribute presents, known as Onakodi, and jewellery.
August 15. Vishakam: Onam Sadhya is prepared on the fourth day, which is also considered the most auspicious day.
August 16, Anizham: On the fifth day, people hold the Vallamkali boat race, which is an annual boat race. It begins in Pathanamthitta, in the village of Aranmula, on the banks of the Pamba River.
August 17, Thriketta: The schools are closed on the sixth day, and the youngsters begin their preparations for devotional prayers.
August 18, Moolam: On the seventh day, Onam Sadhya begins, with various dance performances taking place around the state.
August 19, Pooradam: Devotees clean and install the idols of Vamana and King Mahabali in the centre of the Pookalam on the eighth day.
August 20, Uthradom or First Onam: People buy fruits and vegetables on the ninth day to cook traditional feasts.
August 21, Thiruonam Onam: All of the preparations were completed on the tenth day. People share presents and pray for one another. To commemorate the festival, they make Thiruvona Sadya (a special Onam feast).
August 22, Avittom or Third Onam: People are preparing for Mahabali's return trip to Patal. The Onathappan idol immersion takes place, signalling King Mahabali's departure and the end of Onam's festivities. The Pookalam is also cleansed afterwards.
August 23, Chatayam or Fourth Onam: Onam Week is still going strong for Kerala Tourism, with boat races and Pulikali dance events taking place around the state. However, this year, owing to the pandemic, the Onam week tourism is on hold.