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Onam Festival 2022: Date, Significance and Story


Mautushi Paul





null mins read

Today is National School Picture Day and Onam. Given the fact that kids use mobile phones, a camera is not something new to them. Children today use them and click selfies and pictures all the time. Right from kindergarten, they spend time doing activities that become skills for the future.

This National School Picture Day, what are some of the images your child can click? Since it is also Onam, the festive spirit is on, and everyone wants to take pictures of their traditional attire, their Onam dress. Time for some clicks along with the delicious meals prepared with care and attention to detail.

What is the Onam festival?

Onam greetings! Onam is a celebration dedicated to King Mahabali, who is said to have reigned over Kerala during a golden period. According to legend, the gods wanted to end his reign as they were jealous that he was so good at ruling over his subjects. Due to this, the gods prayed to Lord Vishnu, who appeared in the guise of a Brahmin called Vamana, who pushed Mahabali to the netherworlds.

It is said that Vamana asked him for three feet of land as a wish from the great ruler. When Vamana placed his two feet, it encompassed the entire universe, leaving his third foot hanging in the air. The story then goes that Mahabali told Vamana to put his third foot on his head. Granting him his last wish, Vamana in the form of Lord Vishnu visits Kerala once a year, making it the only indigenous festival of the state. The festival, therefore, has a Hindu undertone while everyone says their Onam wishes. 

Why do we celebrate Onam?

Since today is National School Picture Day, your child can go to any Ayyappan temple and take pictures as Ayyappan is a god from Kerala. Temples dedicated to Ayyappan will conduct grand celebrations on Onam, which marks the moment in Keralan history where Vishnu reigns supreme.

Ayyappan also has a Vishnu connection, which makes the region’s history replete with instances where Vishnu is worshipped wholeheartedly. Malayali men and women wear traditional attire today (the men wear dhotis and the women white saris). It is a great time to take pictures, and videos as Keralan spaces become full of life and energy, relegating the modern world to the fringes and embracing tradition and heritage to an entire degree. To add to today’s ‘school’ part, children can take selfies with their friends and loved ones, showing off their dresses and channelling their inner Mahabali.

Where is Onam celebrated across the country?

Onam is the only major Keralan festival. Malayalis do not celebrate Diwali with as much pomp as they do on this day. This is their primary festival day, regarded as a holy day. Malayalis from all backgrounds and religions unite on this day, which displays India’s composite culture and how we as Indians unite despite the odds.

We can unite “keeping the differences intact” (as Tagore once famously put it). The Christians and Muslims of Kerala also join in on this day, just like Hindus join in on Christmas and other non-Hindu festivals. Today is one such day for students to come together. Onam has become a festival that brings communities and families together, enriching their lives and providing a cultural bedrock to their sense of self in the world.

How is Onam celebrated?

The Onam celebration sadhya is cooked only once in a year. It is a great way to fete your guests at home too. The items in it are kaaya varuthatha (banana chips), chena varuthatha (yam chips), sarkara upperi (jaggery coated banana chips), mango pickle, lime pickle, puli inji (tamarind & ginger chutney), kichadi (gourd in mildly spiced yoghurt), pachadi (pineapple in yoghurt), olan (ash gourd with black beans in a coconut milk gravy), stir-fried vegetables with grated coconut, theeyal (mixed vegetable gravy), erissery (mashed beans and pumpkin with coconut gravy), avial, puliserry (yoghurt based curry), kootu curry (black chickpeas curry), sambar, rasam, spicy buttermilk, bananas, papad and of course boiled rice.


It is similar to a wedding feast. People – especially those who taste it only once a year – sorely miss it as it is made only once a year. Learn about the Health and Nutrition programme at Orchids to learn more about how we care for your children.

At Orchids, we respect all children and the various backgrounds from which they come. Our Malayali tiny tots wear their dhotis and skirts, creating a stir wherever they go. Today is a day of happiness, fun and laughter. The traditional foods served on banana leaves are mopped by one and all. Malayalis love celebrating their Onam, so why not share in the festive spirit and design your flower rangoli? This rangoli, called pookalam, is present in every Malayali household. Time for a snap and a dash to the nearest Malayali gathering. Happy Onam! 

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