Onam Sights in Kerala

Onam Sights in Kerala

So you’ve read our King Mahabali story, and are all set to travel to Kerala during Onam time! Here’s our follow-up guide on the different sights that you’ll encounter on your trip!

1. Onasadya (Onam Feast)

Let’s start with the epic onam feast that you will find everywhere under the name “Onam Sadya” or “Onasadya”. Most vegetarian restaurants in Kerala have a “sadya” option available for lunch, but Onam season takes this lunch feast option up a level. If you’re staying with a family during Onam time, they will surely invite you to partake in their onasadya.

The elaborate meal often consists of over 20 dishes and is served on banana leaves!

 Flickr:  Ramesh NG

Flickr: Ramesh NG

2. Onathumbi (Picture Wing Dragonfly)

These beautiful dragonflies are only seen for a few weeks around Onam time, earning them the name Onathumbi (translated as onam’s dragonfly).

They’ve been the inspiration for many songs and poems in Malayalam (the language of Kerala). Just search for videos of “onathumbi” and you will get several Malayalam movie songs in the results 🙂

 Flickr: Anurag R S

Flickr: Anurag R S

3. Mundu & Kasavu Saree

On Thiruvonam, the main day of the Onam festival, celebrants usually purchase new clothes in a tradition known as Onakkodi. The attire for men is a mundu (a 15ft long rectangular piece of cream cloth bordered (also known as dhoti) with gold border stitching, wrapped around the waist and the legs and knotted at the waist, resembling a long skirt).

The attire for women is a Kasavu Saree – saree made with off-white cotton and a gold brocade work around the border in style known as kasavu.

This is the attire that is also worn by the women for Kaikottikali – a dance exclusively by women around a brass lamp (Nilavilakku). The women arrange themselves in concentric circles and start to dance in a circular motion to the beat of their clapping and singing!

 Wikimedia Commons: Pranchiyettan

Wikimedia Commons: Pranchiyettan

 Flickr:  Peter Tullett

Flickr: Peter Tullett

4. Pookalam

Many homes, restaurants, and offices in Kerala organize pookalams (floral rangolis) – a basic circular shape filled with flowers in various intricate designs. Some schools even arrange pookalam competitions between different clubs/teams in the school!

 Flickr:  Anoop Joy

Flickr: Anoop Joy

 Flickr:  Madhu Kannan

Flickr: Madhu Kannan

 Flickr:  Deepak Kumaran

Flickr: Deepak Kumaran

5. Puli Kali (Leopard play) or Kaduva Kali (Tiger play)

Pulikali, also known as Kaduvakali, is a common sight during Onam season. Performers are painted like leopards or tigers in bright yellow, red, and black and dance down the street to instruments like the chenda (cylindrical wooden drum).

 Wikimedia Commons:  Jpullokaran

Wikimedia Commons: Jpullokaran

6. Onam Events

There are also specific events to check out such as the Thripunithura Athachamayam, and the Aranmula Snake Boat Race!

 Flickr: Jerry John

Flickr: Jerry John

Hope this inspired you to make your next trip to Kerala during the Onam festival!



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