Malayalees celebrate 'Thiruvonam ' with gaiety

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Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 12 (UNI) Malayalees worldover today celebrated 'Onam,' the harvest festival of Kerala, with traditional gaiety marked by sumptuous feasts and cultural and folk art performances.

Cutting across class, caste and creed barriers, people joined together to celebrate 'Thiruvonam' in memory of the mythical ruler king Mahabali.

Major temples in the state witnessed heavy rush of devotees since early morning, while the elder members of families presented 'Onakkodi'(new clothes) to the family members.

'Onasadya,' consisting of traditional delicacies such as 'avial,' 'sambar,' 'thoran,' 'kichadi,' 'kalan,' 'pulisseri,' 'pappadam,' 'pazham' and 'payasam,' was the major attraction in all the homes.

This exclusive feast is served on green plantain(banana) leaves in a traditional manner.

Onam is the most important national festival of Kerala which is celebrated in the month of ''Chingam'' according to Malyalam calendar corresponding to the English month of August/September. The festival marks the end of continuous monsoon rainfall and beginning of the harvest season.

Keralites believe that the soul of their beloved king Mahabali, who was very much attached to his kingdom and his subjects, used to visit the land every year.

Lord Vishnu in his Vamana avatar, granted king Mahabali a boon to return once in a year to his beloved kingdom from the netherworld into which he was pushed down. The day of his return is celebrated as the Thiruvonam festival.

There is a popular saying in Malayalam that 'kanam vittum onam unnanam' which means that Onam should be celebrated even if one's belongings have to be sold. It was celebrated with zeal and fervor and the state witnessed various cultural programmes, boat races, procession of caparisoned elephants, fireworks, kathakali and mohiniattam dances.

People flocked to the markets in droves, the streets were clogged with vehicles and pavement shopkeepers, and the major cities were transformed into hubs of cultural activities.

The capital city came alive with the Tourism Department-sponsored week-long Onam celebrations.

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