About Onam

Onam – the harvest festival of Kerala marks grand festivities and celebration in the south of India. People of all communities come together to the biggest and most important festival of the state with elaborate feasts, folk songs, elegant dances, energetic games, elephants, boats race and beautiful floral decorations. The carnival festival is celebrated in late august or early September, and lasts about ten days.

The popularity and presentation of Kerala’s rich culture during the carnival, made Onam the National festival of the state. Thousands of domestic and foreign tourists visit Kerala to be a part of this beautiful festival. After the monsoon months of heavy rains, the skies become clear and blue, and the forests turn lush green. It’s the perfect time to experience the natural splendour of Kerala.

The Legend
The story about Onam says that during the reign of the demon king, Mahabali, Kerala witnessed happiness and prosperity. Mahabali’s people had deep love and respect for their ruler. Legend has it that the gods plotted against Mahabali to end his reign. For this they sent Lord Vishnu to earth in the form of a dwarf Brahmin. But before being trampled down to the netherworld, Vishnu granted the king's sole wish: To visit his earthly abode and kingdom once every year. It is this visit of Mahabali that is celebrated as Onam every year.

The Welcome
The people of Kerala welcome their revered King with beautiful floral carpets, traditional aromas and sumptuous home-cooked delicacies served on a plantain leaf. Being the harvest festival, it’s a celebration of nature’s bounty after a year long hard work. The rivers and streams come alive after monsoons, lotuses and lilies are in full bloom and you can see elephants playing on the banks of the backwaters.

The Spectacle
Being in Kerala during Onam is a visual treat, with spectacular parades with men dressed as tigers, decorated elephants procession, fireworks, and performances of the local dance form – Kathakali.


The Adrenalin Rush
Snake Boat Race is the most captivating and exciting part of Onam. These boats are about 100 feet long with approximately 150 men using their muscle power, as the race begins in river Pamba. The boats have religious significance and often have a golden lace at the head and the flag and the ornamental umbrella at the center which forms an important part of this visual extravaganza. Thousands of locals and internationals throng the river banks to cheer this breathtaking tussle of speed.


All this and more makes Onam the perfect time to visit ‘God’s own country – Kerala’. No wonder the Government of Kerala has declared this time every year as Tourism Week.

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