Onam Amidst a Pandemic

Onam is one of the most anticipated festivals in Kerala, Malayalis all around the world look forward to celebrating this festival for 10 days straight, from Atham to Thiruvonam. Flower carpets to Kasavu Saris to Vallamkali, Onam has so much about it that is interesting and exciting. It is one of those celebrations that will have you planning months ahead of time. Onam is the festival that brings families and friends together. There is also so much culture and tradition revolving around the festival that it brings out the true Malayali in everyone regardless of where they are.


Onam this year will be quite different in the light of the pandemic. People will avoid gathering in public spaces and celebrating outside of their homes, but nothing will dampen their spirit and positivity during Onam. Onam in 2020 began on the 22nd of August and will see its climax on the 2nd of September, on the day of Thiruvonam.

The 10 days of Onam Celebrations

Onam signifies the return of King Mahabali to Kerala. It falls on the Malayalam month of Chingam which coincides with August-September of the Gregorian calendar. Each of the 10 days of this harvest festival marks something important and there is significance attached to the different celebrations. This 10-day affair is a huge deal to Malayalis and they whole-heartedly celebrate each day.

Atham which is the first day of Chingam marks the beginning of the festival, on this day yellow flowers are used to make the pookalam (flower carpet), more flowers are added with each passing day till Thiruvonam. On the second day, which is Chithira, it is a custom to clean the house and add another layer of flowers to the pookalam. Chodi, the third day, involves gifting loved ones new clothes, known as the Onakodi, jewelry and other items are also gifted. The fourth day is considered very auspicious and the preparation for the Onasadhya begins on Vishakam. With Anizham setting the Vallamkali (Boat race) off and Thriketa usually marking the closing of schools for holiday, the fifth and sixth day of Onam celebration goes by quite quickly.

Vallamkali ( Snake Boat Race)

With each passing day the excitement around the festival peaks. On Moolam, the seventh day, Onasadhya preparations begin and it is served at temples, dance performances also take place. Pooradam is the day the statues of Vamana and King Mahabali are added to the pookalam, they are kept at the center of the flower arrangement. The ninth day which is Utharadam, is the day that is believed to mark the arrival of Mahabali to the State. Thiruvonam, the final day is when the celebrations hit its peak. A grand sadhya is prepared and cultural competitions take place all across the State.

Onasadhya- a grand spread of delicacies

The Reality of Onam in the midst of the Covid19 Pandemic

Businesses all around the world are having a hard time due to the economic crisis that has come up due to the pandemic. Flower sellers to gold merchants, all businesses in Kerala usually find their businesses flourishing during the Onam festival as everyone is looking forward to spend and have a good time. This time around businesses aren’t the seeing the expected number of customer, for example flower sellers aren’t seeing 200% rise in sales they are usually blessed with every Onam. The same goes for the textile stores in Kerala. This is the rather gloomy reality of 2020’s Onam. Having said that, everyone is trying to make the most of this auspicious festival and looks forward to better days soon.

A Positive Take on Onam 2020

On the bright side there are so many ways to celebrate Onam at home, from dressing up to preparing a sadhya to watching a movie, you can do so much while spending your Onam at home with your family. There are also so many offers and discounts on products and services this Onam. If you’ve been wanting to get something for yourself or your loved one, this Onam might be the perfect time to make the purchase. You can also stream Onam Special videos with YouTube’s Celebrate Onam #WithMe – Orumichoru Onam. Nothing beats binge watching YouTube videos right?


With hopes for a better Onam next year, Malayali families are staying positive and celebrating Onam 2020 as well as they can. Whether it’s through video calls or messages, people are looking forward to spreading the cheer of the holiday and embracing the Malayali culture!

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