Things That Make Onam Celebrations Extra Awesome!

The floral designs,the yummy sadya, the boat races – these are probably the morewell-known festivities of Onam, Kerala’s biggest festival. But wait. There’s more. A lot more. Asthe state celebrates the return of King Mahabali over 10 days of grandeur, here are some of the traditionsthat make Onam one of the coolest festivals ever.

1. It’s dragon season 
With sun-kissed wings and its delicate fluttering, the onathumbi is a welcome sight during Onam.Heralding a season of harvest, this special dragonfly can be spotted around this festive time, lending a golden hue to your Onam celebrations.

2. Pop goes the pappadam 
The kalans, the olans, pachadis and pappadams are all part of the mouthwatering sadya. Because let’s face it, Onam without the glorious pappadam being smashed on a heap of rice just doesn’t sound right. 

3. Swing to the sound of music 
Coir ropes tied crudely to a wooden plank and suspended from a barely stable tree branch spells inexplicable happiness that you just won’t getwith today’s fancy gadgets. Fighting to take turns on the swing, yelling out to your friends to tighten the knots, the joy of finding an unattended oonjal… pure bliss.

4. The upperi united 
Life is too short to wait till the end of the meal for dessert. Take a bite of Sharkara Upperi at the start, and let the jaggery and banana take over! The traditional, miserly dose of Sharkara Upperi always leaves you wanting more.

5. Toys from the banana republic 
Move over fidget spinner, the olapanthuis here to kick your scrawny frame. Made with leftover banana leaves, this toy gives you the much-needed physical exercise to wake yourself up from your self-inflicted sadya stupor.

6. Get the flower power 
Woken up early, kids prowl the neighbourhood climbing walls and braving gardening enthusiasts to collect the flowers for the pookalam. The whole family gets together each day to add a new circle to the arrangement that is full of colours and hopes for another good year.

7. Blooms that blow you away 
What’s a pookalam without thethumbapoo? Without this flower, the pookalam loses its shimmer when the sun comes out. The thumbapoo carpet is also an integral part of the kaikottikali festivities.

8. The game of tugs 
It’s more intense than any television series you’ve ever watched. The tension is palpable, the air is spoiling for a friendly fight, and the teams are ready to tug their hearts out in the vadam vali. The gratification is probably just recognition, but it’s team spirit that wins the day.

9. Drape it in style 
When the little kids run around in their pretty pavadas and kutti mundus while their mothers look as beautiful as ever in their kasavu sarees, you know it’s Onam. What better way to welcome Maveli than being dressed in the traditional attire your elders gift you?

10. Row, row, row your boat 
The synchronised hand movements as they gently steer a rocky boat to victory is a mesmerising sight indeed. The vallamkali popularised by many movie songs and stars still continues to hold its old-world charm.

11. Bring out the wild side 
Puli kali is an event that changes you. For days after, all your responses to questions would just be feet thumping and feeble vocal attempts at sounding like a tiger. Painted faces, heavy beats, frenzied dancing, the puli kalisure gives any disco a run for its money.

12. The Mahabali salute 
How many countless memories of Onam do you have of proudly and carefully holding the freshly made mud onathappan at home? While you can get these at the market today, this handmade novelty of honouring King Mahabali in the simplest way possible is not lost yet.

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