Many colours of Onam celebrations from across Kerala


Chingam(August-September), the primary month of Malayalam calendar, brings in Onam, the 10-day pageant. Beginning with the Atham, it concludes on the 10th day, Thiruvonam. While the pookkalams (floral carpets) and Onasadya (the grand feast) are integral to the pageant, celebrations at house fluctuate from area to area and even inside the identical neighborhood.

Say it with flowers

In Central and North Kerala, pookkalams (floral carpets) are laid in circles on the bottom. Prior to that, the world earmarked for the pookkalam is plastered with cowdung. However, in sure households flowers are organized on a raised and layered mattress of sand, resembling a pyramid. “On Atham, when Mahabali is believed to start his journey to visit his former subjects, yellow flowers are used,” says Manjusha Pisharody, a meals blogger and historical past buff from Palakkad. Namboothiri households round Kumaranelloor in Kottayam, use yellow flowers of pumpkin on that day, says Vijayasree Vasan, a homemaker. A leaf of tulsi (holy basil) and flowers of thumba (Leucas aspera or Ceylon slitwort) flowers are positioned on the centre of the pookkalam. There can be a apply to maintain a small ball of cow dung within the center of pookkalam with thumba and mukutti (little weed plant) flowers and tulsi leaf on high of it.

As days cross by, the quantity of circles and varieties of flowers enhance. On the seventh day, the pookkalam is made within the form of a sq.. “On the next day, we arrange a trail of flowers, from the gate to the pookkalam. The biggest pookkalam is on the penultimate day of Onam. There is no floral carpet on the day of Thiruvonam,” she provides.

Says Suresh Ezhuvanthala, a instructor and folklore exponent from Cherpulassery in Palakkad district, “In my community [Ashari], we make pookkalams only till the eighth day. After that we make three clay figures, which are called ‘Poorada unnikal’.”

Bring house the deity

Onathappan, Thrikkakara Appan or Mathevar are pyramid-shaped figures made of clay or sand and positioned close to the pookkalam, representing Vamana and Mahabali. It is positioned close to the pookkalam from on the eighth and ninth day. Placed on banana leaves or raised platforms, they’re adorned with rice flour paste and flowers. “We additionally maintain ‘muthiyamma’ and ‘mootharu’, clay figures representing an aged couple, together with fashions of conventional grinding stones resembling ammikkallu, aattukallu and ural, and different kitchen implements together with cattle, plough and so on,” says Vijayasree.

In sure Namboothiri illams (conventional houses of the neighborhood) of Palakkad and Malappuram, a number of Mathevars are made, beginning with 5 and going as much as 45 by Thiruvonam. “As new ones are made, previous ones are eliminated and organized in such a option to point out that they’re going out of the home. It is a sight to behold as they’re positioned in rows from the nadumuttam (open courtyard) to the doorway of home. No pookkalams are laid at these households,” Suresh says.

Mathever arranged near Pookkalam

However, in some Namboothiri houses of Kondotti, Thenhipalam, and Nilambur in Malappuram, pookkalams are vital with the Mathevar stored on a banana leaf positioned in its centre. With one Mathevar being made on a regular basis, there will likely be 10 of them by Thiruvonam. Meanwhile, in elements of Central Kerala, as a substitute of making clay figures of Mahabali, the determine of the king is drawn on sand and it’s crammed ith slices of the thumba plant.

Mathevars are propitiated with pujas and choices, resembling Poovada (steamed rice patty), bananas (ripe or boiled) and pappadam. But the idea of Mathevar is absent in most of the southern districts of Kerala.

Festivities proceed

The 16th day after Thiruvonam is noticed as Pathinaaram Makam. An enormous clay determine known as Makathadiyan (thadiyan means fats man), is made and a grand feast is ready. This continues to be adopted by many in Central in addition to in North Kerala. by most of the communities. “I have heard that flowers used to be laid till Makam,” says Manjusha.

Play on

Women take part in ‘Pennukettykkali’ or ‘Pennirakkal’ at Nhangattiri in Palakkad

Women participate in ‘Pennukettykkali’ or ‘Pennirakkal’ at Nhangattiri in Palakkad  
| Photo Credit:
Suresh Ezhuvanthala

Even although most of the standard video games related to Onam have disappeared, just a few of them proceed to be performed. At Nhangattiri in Palakkad, girls participate in video games resembling ‘Pennukettykkali’ or ‘Pennirakkal’ and Kaikottikali. Thumbithullal, Chattipanthu kali, Erupanthu kali and Thalama are amongst different video games which are performed. Onathallu, a battle with naked arms, has two variations. In elements of Thrissur, it’s a actual bodily battle, the place as at Pallassana in Palakkad, Onathallu or Avittathallu, is enactment of war-like scenes.

Multiple Onam

Thiruvonam within the month of Karkkadakam, within the Malayalam calendar, is noticed as Pilleronam, the Onam for teenagers (piller means youngsters). A feast is ready with 4 curries — erissery, pulissery, olan and payasam. In some houses, pookkalams are laid from at the present time onwards. Bhagavathy Onam is widely known with a sadya on Thiruvonam day of Kanni, the month that follows Chingam.

Kaikkottikkali at Nhangattiri in Palakkad

Dessert for the day

Namboothiri households even have the apply of making ready particular dishes resembling modakam and kozhukutta (dumplings with rice flour and jaggery) aval nanachathu (candy rice flakes), banana wafers and sharkkaravaratti on totally different days. Different payasams are ready from the fifth day onwards. Uthrattathi is the day when ladies who bought married off come house. So the identical dishes as that of Thiruvonam day is unfold out on at the present time, Vijayasree explains.

On music

Thuyiluranarthu Pattu at a house in Palakkad district

In a number of areas of north Kerala, members of the Panan neighborhood, come house within the wee hours of Thiruvonam and render Thuyilunarthu pattu. “They sing and play the thudi (a percussion instrument) and the chenda. Their song is for the prosperity and happiness of the families, who, in turn gift them new clothes, rice, money, and food. This is still practised in Kezhoor and nearby areas in Palakkad,” says Suresh, who has documented the songs of the neighborhood.

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