Thiruvananthapuram, Sept 14: Thiru Onam, the most important day in the Onam calendar, was celebrated in Kerala on Wednesday, with innumerable households cooking a 26-dish vegetarian feast called 'sadya'.
Many visited temples -- richly decorated on the occasion -- early in the day to offer prayers.
Onam is celebrated almost by the entire state in honour of the revered king Mahabali, who is attached to his kingdom and is believed to visit the place annually from the nether world.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who normally goes to his hometown Kannur on this day, celebrated Thiru Onam with his family here as he is undergoing a two-week ayurvedic therapy.
Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and his wife had their sadya feast with patients of the Regional Cancer Centre who came to his house here in the capital city.
The sadya -- 26 dishes in all -- is served on plantain leaves.
On Wednesday, BJP President Amit Shah wished Keralites a Happy Onam.
But some in the state's central districts said they were not celebrating -- for economic reasons. The region is known for rubber plantations.
"The price of rubber is having a free fall. A kilo of rubber in 2010 fetched Rs 210, today it gets us less than Rs 100. How do you expect us to be happy on Thiru Onam?" asked John Jacob, a rubber farmer in Kottayam.
Caterers and hotels in major cities made a kill as many people preferred to order the sadya rather than cook at home.
"We ordered from a caterer and it came in neatly packed containers along with plantain leaves. The meal was good and all of us enjoyed it," said Suja Mohan, a housemaker.
In most markets in Kerala, plantain leaves were in huge demand, each leaf costing as much as Rs 10.
At Fort Kochi, the Onam celebrations was led by the Janamaithri Kerala Police team in which numerous foreign tourists took part in the Onam games and then enjoyed the mouth-watering sadya.
But many tourists found it tough to eat with their hands.
At the Thrikkakara temple near Kochi, one of the few shrines dedicated to Lord Vamana, the sadya started at 10.30 a.m. Thousands relished the dishes.
At the Lulu Mall in Kochi, a 20-foot-tall Maveli (as Mahabali is known locally), was put up by artists from the Kochi Biennale Foundation, using mainly nature friendly material.
The more than a dozen Malayalam TV channels offered a bonanza of films and interviews with film stars and other personalities on Wednesday.
The Onam spirit is likely to continue till the educational institutions in Kerala reopen on Monday.