The time for his annual visit was in the first Malayalam month Chingom (August-September) and this occasion became one of Jubilation throughout the land, reminiscent of the prosperous times of Mahabali.
On the Thiruvonam day every one bathes and offers worship in temples early in the morning. Then the gayest new garments are put on. Presents are distributed to the younger members of the family. Then follows the onam feast of delicious food served on plantain leaves. Members of families, staying far away from native places make it a point to visit their ancestral homes to celebrate the festival in the company of their kith and kin. Keralites celebrate onam by organising community feast, cultural programmes, etc.
After the feast there will be sports and games, both indoor and outdoor, in which both men and women of all ages participate. Mack fight, ball games, card and chess play are the favorites of the menfolk whereas women find pleasure in `Oonjalattom, thumbithullal, Thiruvathirakali, Kaikottikali, etc. Boat races (regatta) also form another item of onam festival which attract thousands of people including tourists from outside the state.
Onam is a harvest festival, and celebrates the bounty of nature after a year of hard labor. Elaborate procession of Trichur and spectacular snake boat races on River Pampa mark the merry-making nature of the festival. Women dress up in new saris and heavy jewelry and make elaborate and intricate designs of “rangolis” (with colored rice paste) and “pookkalam” (with flowers) in front of their homes.
Onam is celebrated after the memory of King Mahabali. It was said that King Mahabali ruled Kerala a long time ago and looked after his people well. Thus Onam symbolizes the joyful rule of the King and the happiness that the people had under his rule. The people also have the belief that during Onam, the King returns to Kerala to visit his people.
Onam Varavayi !!!