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Onam Rituals

Onam depicts the story of Mahabali the king who rules the country during a time of prosperity. It is believed that he still visits Kerala annually to bless the people. The women dress up and decorate the entrance to their homes to welcome Mahabali. The whole state comes alive with festivity and activity. Onam is a time of festivity, cooking good food, games, sports and much more. A time for the snake boat festival. The children have a merry time collecting flowers early morning to decorate the yards of their houses for the ten days of the festival. The festival starts from Atham and continues till Thiruvonam. The native flower carpet known as 'onapookalam' is the highlight of these decorations and there are specifications of the type of flowers to be used on each day of the festival. 

Utradam is the  ninth day since the beginning of the festival. On this day houses are well cleaned and decorated and gala feasts are arranged. Then the images of deities and cones made up of sticky clay painted red are placed there. They are known as 'Trikkakara Appan'. These images are adorned with lines tastefully drawn with rice flour mixed with water and then they are worshipped. After the 'puja', the male members raise loud rhythmic shouts of joy known as 'Aarppu Vilikkukal'. 

On the main day of onam new clothes are given as presents followed by a grand feast. On the ninth day, tenants of the family, dependants and hangers-on present the fruits of their labor, such as vegetables and coconut oil to 'Karanavar', the eldest member of the Tarawad in a ritual called 'Onakazhcha'. In return, they are treated with a sumptuous feast on the main day of Onam. It is also customary for the village artisans to present the Karanavar of each Nayar Tarawad, a specimen of his handiwork in return of the presents of cloth or rice.

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