Keralites celebrate a very 'costly' Onam

Day marred by protests and strikes


However, neither the price rise nor the rain which lashed the state throughout the day could dampen the spirit of the festivities.
Week-long cultural programmes spread over different venues in the three major cities of Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode were opened by Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan on Tuesday. No Onam would be complete without protests and strikes which have become part and parcel of Kerala culture. Several organisations gave up their Onam festivities for the sake of their demands and sat on dharna in front of the Secretariat as well as the Raj Bhavan.

Laying of floral carpets (athapookkalam), preparing and serving onasadya (feast), holding boat races, Thiruvathirakkali by women and onakkalikal (onam games) are some of the best-preserved features of Onam. Puli (tiger), Kummatti and Onappottan are some of the apparitions that visit the Malayalam heartland during this period. Athapookkalam contests are commonly held by almost every organisation in the State as well as sports and arts clubs. The traditional feast (Onasadya) is a study in contrast. In southern and central Kerala, the vegetarian menu includes among other things parippu (dal) curry, sambar, aviyal, thoran, kichidi, pickles, pappad, kalan, olan and payasam.

However, in north Kerala, fish and meat are an unavoidable speciality. The tribals of Wayanad prepare smoked chicken, rice and special chutney for Onam.
Onam is celebrated in honour of Mahabali, the mythical king of ancient Kerala and the spirit of equality that he embodied. Legend has it that Mahabali was forced into the netherworld by Vamana, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Vamana permitted Mahabali to visit his subjects once a year, on Thiruonam day.

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