Onam - Ten Days of Celebrations
 
Atham 

The first day of Onam Celebrations starts with Atham day in  Chingam. It is believed that King Mahabali starts his preparations to descend from Pathala to Kerala on this day. The day also marks the start of festivities at Thrikkakara Temple  (considered as the abode of Mahabali). The Onam celebrations across the state, starts off with a grand procession at Thrippunithura near Kochi called Atthachamayam. In olden days, the Kochi Maharaja used to head a grand military procession in full ceremonial robes from his palace to the Thrikkakara temple.After independence, the public took over the function and celebrated as a major cultural procession which kicks off the official celebrations of Onam. Elephant processions, folk art presentations, music and dancing make Athachamyam a spectacular event which is now aggressively promoted as a tourist event. The traditional ritual of laying Pookalam (floral carpet) starts on Atham day. The size of pookkalam on this day is called as Athapoo and is small in size. This will grow in size day after day. Only yellow flowers will be used on this day and the design will be simple. Also,the statues of Mahabali and Vamana will be installed at the entrance of each house on this day.

To complete the rituals of Atham people take early bath and offer prayers in the local temple. There is also a set breakfast for Atham consisting of steamed bananas and fried pappadam (pappad). This breakfast remains the same till the tenth and the last day of Thiru Onam. A swing decked with flowers is also slung from a high branch and youngsters take great delight in swinging and singing Oonjal (swing) songs.
Chithira
The second day is marked off when a second layer is added to pookkalam design with 2 different colours apart from yellow (mostly orange and creamy yellow). On this day, people start cleaning the household to prepare for the Thiruvonam day.
Chodhi 
The third day of Onam Celebrations.The pookalam now will start growing in its size by adding new layers or designs with at least 4 to 5 different flowers. The day also marks the start of shopping activities. Onam is associated with gifting new clothes, hence from this day onwards people start buying new clothes and jewellery.
 
Vishakam
The fourth day of Onam Celebrations.Vishakam is considered to be one of the most auspicious days of Onam. In olden days, the markets open their harvest sale on this day, making one of the busiest days in the markets for public. Today Vishakam marks the start of many Onam-related competitions like Pookalam competitions etc. Women who have to prepare the elaborate meal of Onasadya on Thiruvonam, gets engaged in the prior preparations on Visakam. Making of various types of pickles and pappadams (papad) besides various other things begins now. 
Anizham
The fifth day of Onam Celebrations, Snake Boats get ready to race in the  Aranmula Uthrattathi Vallamkali .Anizham is one of the most important day in the Onam days as it kicks off the great Vallam Kali (Snake boat) at many parts of Kerala. A mock Vallam Kali is conducted on this day at Aranmula as a dress-rehearsal for the famed Aranmula boat race which will be held after Onam.
Thriketa
The sixth day of Onam Celebrations. By the sixth day, the public frenzy starts building up. Most of the schools give holiday from this day onwards and people start packing their bags to their native homes to celebrate the festival with their dear ones. The pookalam design will be very large by this time, with at least 5 to 6 new flowers types added to the original designs.
Moolam
The seventh day of Onam Celebrations. On the seventh day, the smaller versions of traditional Ona Sadya (Onam special buffet lunch) start in many places. Most of the temples offers special sadhyas on from this day. Pookalam is made in a new design with kondattam (gaiety) on this day with the most beautiful flowers. Festivities include Puli Kali (Masked leopard dance) and traditional dance forms like Kaikotti Kali also performed in various functions. The official Government celebrations start on this day with heavy illuminations in Thiruvananthapuram City, Kochi city and Kozhikode along with fireworks.
Pooradam 
The eight day of Onam Celebrations. The day starts off with a major traditional ritual where the small statues of Mahabali and Vamana will be washed and cleaned and taken around the house in a procession. It will be later installed in the center of the pookkalam smeared with a rice-flour batter. The smearing is done by small children who are called Poorada unnikal. From this day onwards, the statue will be called Onathappan. The pookkalam design from Pooradam day onwards gets much bigger and complex in design. Shopping is one of the major activities as the public will be making final purchases for the great Thiruvonam day.
Uthradom
The ninth day of Onam Celebrations. Uthradom is the ninth and the penultimate day of the festival of Onam. It is considered as Onam eve and celebrated in a very big way.  It is a public holiday on that day .The importance of this day is last minute extreme shopping frenzy called as Uthradappachil and is considered the most auspicious day for purchase of fresh vegetables and fruits along with other provisions from the Thiruvonam day.

Uthradam is known as 'First Onam' because it marks the day when King Mahabali descends onto Kerala. Traditional myths say that the king will spend the next four days touring his erstwhile kingdom and blessing the subjects. Due to this, Uthradom is celebrated in a very pompous manner with larger pookkalams and celebrations in all households. The Uthradom lunch is generally grand. Women normally cut the first set of vegetables on this day that marks the celebrations of Thiruvonam in each household and preparations for grand Thirvonam feast also start during the evening of Uthradom day.

On the day of Utradam tenants and dependents of Nayar Tarawads (traditional large joint families sharing a common kitchen) bring produce of their farms or the product of their toil to the Karanavar (eldest member of the Tarawad). These gifts from the tenants to the Karanavar are called Onakazhcha. Karanavar greets these people warmly and treats them with a sumptuous meal on Thiru Onam. Village artisans also bring their handicrafts to the Karanavar and are graciously rewarded. 
Thiruvonam 

The tenth day of Onam Celebrations The final day of Onam that culminates the 10 days of Onam Carnival. The day is known as Thiru-Onam (Sacred Onam Day) also known as 'Second Onam'. Myth says that this was the day Mahabali was sent to the netherworld by Vamana. This day is considered auspicious being birthdays of several temple deities like Vamana of Thrikkara temple, Sree Padmanabha Swamy of Thiruvananthapuram etc.
Activities begin early in the morning. People clean their house, apply rice flour batter on the main entrance (a traditional welcome sign), take an early bath, wear new clothes and distribute alms to needy. The eldest female member of each family presents clothes to all the members of the family. Special prayers and Masses are organized in temples, churches and mosques that highlight the secular nature of festival. The Pookkalam is prepared to welcome Mahabali. Sumptuous Onam Sadya feasts are prepared. The afternoon is marked with various traditional Onam games normally seen in rural areas and are organized by resident associations clubs etc. in large cities. In some parts of Kerala, people indulge in various games and dances (Onakkalikal) during and post Thiruvonam.

There are some rituals also marked for the eleventh and twelfth day called Avittomand Chatayam or Chathayam respectively. But the major celebrations get over on the tenth and the most important day of Thiruvonam.
 
     
 
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