Another Onam season is here. A time of prosperity, festivity, gaiety coupled with good old memories and traditions is upon us. Yes, for those of us from Kerala the 10-day long festival is a jubilant period. Onam is the state festival of Kerala in India; it is primarily a harvest festival. Mythically the festival commemorates the symbolic homecoming of King Mahabali. And also the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu as the Vamana.
Onam season falls in the month of Chingam in the Malayalam calendar. As per the calendar, the first day of the Onam is Atham. On the 10th day following Atham is the main Onam day. In the English calendar this year, it is in August. So, this year Atham day is on the 12th and Thiruvonam day falls on the 21st of this month.
Usually, joyous celebrations and activities fill the atmosphere. Children having 10-days long schools holidays, shopping, making the daily flower carpets, good food, games. Now, all of a sudden, all these became something of the past.
Pandemic has completely rewritten the age-old traditions and practices. Places that used to brim with activities and joyous uproar during the season remain deserted and silent. Many temples in Kerala continue to hold special prayers during these days. There are popular temples celebrating Onam in Kerala in traditional ways. A limited number of devotees and guests are allowed to visit too.
Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple
Guruvayur town where the temple is situated is not very far from Thrissur town. Sree Krishna Temples is one of the popular temples celebrating Onam and is visited by thousands.
During Onam season the location becomes crowded with tourists and locals. All the houses in the vicinity will be decorated with flower carpets.
The rituals start very early in the morning. The offering of bananas to the deity by the devotees is a remarkable event. From this offering, the banana is used to make the Onam special sweet dessert ‘Pradhaman’ in the temple. Oh yes, you will get to taste it and you will love it. The remaining portions are for feeding elephants in the temple and for auctioning away.
Thrissur being the cultural capital of Kerala, a lot of activities take place during the Onam season.
At 80 KM away Cochin international airport is the nearest airport. However, the railway and roads connect the temple premises well.
Thrikkakara Vamanamoorthy Temple
Vamana, one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu, is a prominent figure in the Onam celebration.
The Thrikkakara temple being the only temple in the state dedicated to Vamana, elaborate festivity takes place here.
Mainly on the ninth and tenth days of Onam, special celebrations take place here. Devotees thronging to the temple make offerings of the banana bunch to the deity. An elephant parade that takes place here as part of festivity is a sight to watch. The devotees are provided with a sumptuous festive meal too in the temple premises.
The temple can easily be reached by road or train. The closest international airport is within 45 minutes drive.
Aranmula Sri Parthasarathy Temple, Pathanamthitta
Those who have been to the temple on Onam day will cherish fond memories of grand Onam Sadya (festive feast). Among the temples celebrating Onam in Kerala, this temple stands out especially because of the feast.
The temple has a rich history and fascinating stories to tell. The temple is considered one of the 108 sacred places of Vaishnavas.
Traditionally decorated snake boats full of edibles items are served to the devotees and guests. A variety of items can fill your mind, soul, and body.
Aranmula snake boat race and mirror are famous and attract even international visitors. It is a world heritage site. Each year thousands of people gather even from abroad to be part of the event.
Thiruvananthapuram is the nearest airport, however, reaching by road or train is more convenient from the nearest towns.
The Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala is one of the other popular temples celebrating Onam in Kerala. The temple is located at an altitude of 1535 ft above sea level in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala.
Celebrations in the last four days of Onam are important here.
Besides the special prayers, the devotees are offered the traditional festal food too. On all four days, Onam’s special rituals will be held at the temple.
The hill station abode of Lord Ayyappa can be reached by road easily from all major towns of Kerala. The nearest international airport is 160 KM away at Cochin.
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram
Situated in the capital city of Kerala, it is one of the ancient temples celebrating Onam in Kerala. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
On the Thiruvonam day, the customary “bow” a.k.a Onavillu will be presented to the presiding deity. Onavillu is closely associated with the legend of Onam story. The tradition of Onavillu offering is believed to be in place from as early as the 1500s.
All the traditional practices of piety can be witnessed during Onam days. Since a large crowd is expected during these days to the capital city, better to plan your trip in advance.
And as can be expected floral carpets, people wearing traditional attire, and festal food make Onam season colorful.
The international airport is just 6 KM away and the temple is well connected by railway and roads too.
Thank you Prasanth and Rajeev R for the photos of Aranmula Temple and Thrikkakara Temple.
Note: Before setting out to any of these locations, do get the updated travel info and status from the temple office. Due to the volatile pandemic situation, changes can happen unexpectedly. Most of the temples celebrating Onam in Kerala have already stipulated the number of visitors during these days.
A Travel enthusiast and Foodie, craving to explore the intricate beauty of nature and its gift of delectable treats. Pens down his thoughts and experiences to present a delightful journey for his readers