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Onam August 14-26, 2010

Onam is a malayalam word for the annual harvest festival. It is celebrated mainly in the south Indian state of Kerala. It is one of the most important festival in the culture of Malayalees. It occurs in the month of August- september which is the month of Chingam in the Malayalam calendar. It lasts for ten days.It is celebrted by people of all religion and castes in India. Mythologically it is linked to Malayalee-Hindu folktales but essentially it is the harvest festival of the malayalees.

Onam has been part of Malayalee culture for centuries and the earliest record of this festival goes as back as to 800 A D. Before that most of the political history of this region is unknown. Therefore that period is usually referred as the Kalabhra Interregnum as the Kalabhras, who most probably were the people of Mahabali, ruled Kerala up untill atleast the sixth century. Kalabhras probably refers to Keralaputras.

Onam signifies the communal memory and celebration of a story about how paradise was lost as ennunciated in the Mahabali Legend. The celebration of the harvest also signifies the memory attached to the golden age of prosperity.
During those days the whole of Chingam month was celebrated as Onam season. Chingam is a very much welcome month for people in kerala especially after the rainy month of Karkidakam. The festival marks the begining of spring which itself signals the start of the harvest season. Onam festival brings newfound energy and enthusiasm of the season to the people. It is celebrated with traditional rituals and visit to temples. Family get-togethers and offering gifts to each other such as clothes called Onakkodi are other events.

Amisha Patel
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