The Onam 2021 Date, Time and Significance – Asttrolok


Let the prosperity shower on you this Onam


The harvest festival falls in August / September celebrated across the world, and especially among Keralites, is known as ONAM. According to the Malyali calendar month of chigam, the festival falls on the Twenty-Second nakshatra, Thiru Onam, and marks the beginning of the Malayalam calendar called Kolla Varsham.

Beginning on the day of Atham, the festival ends on the 10th day known as Thiru Onam. This is the most auspicious day of the Onam festival.


King Mahabali, according to Vaishnav mythology, defeated the gods and began ruling over all three worlds. A demon king, belonging to the Asura tribe, Mahabali was kind-hearted and well-liked by the people of his tribe and kingdom.  Mahabali’s popularity was the cause of insecurity amongst the gods. Lord Vishnu had to step in to contain mahabali.

Lord Vishnu took his fifth avatar, the Brahmin dwarf Vamana. As Brahmin Vamana, Lord Vishnu paid a visit to mahabali and the king asked Vamana what he wished for. Vamana asked for three paces of land and was granted that wish by mahabali. Vamana then grew in size and in the first two paces covered the sky and the netherworld. About to take the third step, Mahabali offered his own head, an act which greatly impressed Lord Vishnu. The lord granted Mahabali the right to visit his kingdom and so every year people celebrate the Onam festival as a mark of Mahabali’s visit.

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During the ten days festival, people after bathing offer prayers, wear traditional clothes, women of the household wear white and gold saree called kasavu, participates in dancing, draw flower rangolis called pookkalam, and, cook traditional treats called sadya. Sadya is then served to banana leaves during Onam.

Boat races called Vallam Kali, Tiger Dances (Pullikali), take place during the ten days festival including tiger dance, puli kali while worshipping all worshipping the god onathappam. Tug of war, Thumbi Thullal, women’s dances, masked dance Kummattikali Onathallu, martial arts, onavillu (music), onapattam (costumes) folk songs are some of the festivities during Onam.

The traditional Onam Sadya feast is a nine-course meal that consists of twenty-six dishes including Kalan sweet potato and yam coconut curry dish, olan white gourd prepared in coconut curry.  Kooth curry, a dish made of chickpeas, rasam (soup-like dish)  and payasam are also prepared.  

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Mala Chatterjee

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