Onam is a popular Hindu festival, observed mainly in the south Indian state of Kerala. As per the Malayalam calendar, it falls on the month of Chingam, which in context of the Gregorian calendar, falls in the month of August-September. This year in 2017, Onam will be observed on the 4th of September. It is a grand festival for all Malayalis, residing in and out of Kerala. The day commemorates all mythologies related to the Mahabali, Vamana, who is an avatar of Lord Vishnu, Kashyapa, and Parshurama. Onam mainly signifies celebrations of the summer harvest, which is decked with loads of festivities. These include boat races—known as Vallam Kali, tiger dances—known as Pulikali, flower arrangements—known as Pookkalam, worshipping—known as Onathappan, the tug of war, the Onam Kali, women’s dance—known as Thumbi Thullai, mask dance—known as Kummati Kali, martial arts—known as Onathallu, traditional music—known as Onavillu, offerings of plantains—known as Kazhchakkula, traditional folk songs and dancing—known as Atthachamayam, various costumes—known as Onapottan, among other aspects of celebrations. Onam marks the New Year for those who are Malayali Hindus.
Even people who are not Hindus but live in the state of Kerala, celebrate the Onam festival, treating it as a cultural festival, courtesy the varied list of cultural events that are a part of this festival. On the other hand, some choose to denounce the celebrations, as they tend to treat it as more of a religious festival than a cultural festival. In Kerala, Onam is observed as a four days long festival, starting right from the Onam Eve—also known as Uthradom. Traditionally, the entire is a spread over a span of 10 days, and this year it begins from the 26th of August and goes on to wrap up on the 6th of September, with the 4th of September being the main day of the festival.
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