Onam was celebrated with pomp and gaiety in Kerala on Thursday after its celebration in the last two years were marred by the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions.
In 2018 and 2019 also, Onam celebrations were dampened by the devastating floods in parts of the state.
Unlike the previous two years, people were not confined to their homes and celebrated Thiruvonam, whose highlight is the sumptuous ‘sadhya’ or feast, with their loved ones and friends.
Homes were decorated with beautiful floral carpets called ‘pookkolam’ of various designs and colours, family members gifted ‘onakkodi’ (new dresses) to each other and several varieties of banana chips, which Kerala is famous for, were prepared for the feast in households across the southern state.
In villages, people also put up high swings or ‘oonjal’ in the courtyards of their homes.
Subsequent to the feast, which comprised various traditional vegetarian dishes, pickles and desserts that are served on a banana leaf, people visited their relatives and close friends and took part in mass family gatherings which was not possible for the last two years.
There were also displays of traditional art forms and games, a part of the Onam festivities, which were missing for the last two years.
Onam is a festival connected with the return of Asura (demon) King Mahabali, under whose reign everyone lived in happiness and equality.
According to folklore, envious of his popularity, the Devas (Gods) sought the help of Lord Vishnu to get him banished into the netherworld but before going down, Mahabali secured a boon from Vishnu to visit his subjects every year on Thiruvonam Day, which this year falls on September 8.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday greeted people on Onam and said, ”Onam greetings to everyone, especially the people of Kerala and Malayali community spread around the world. This festival reaffirms the vital role of Mother Nature and the importance of our hardworking farmers. May Onam also further the spirit of harmony in our society.” President Droupadi Murmu and Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar had on Wednesday extended their Onam greetings to all citizens, wishing everyone peace and prosperity.
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan too on Wednesday had extended their Onam greetings to the people of the southern state and Malayalis across the world.