Onam is an important Indian festival of the state of Kerala. It is considered to be a harvest festival and is celebrated with enthusiasm and elation by the people.
All About Onam
When is Onam Celebrated?
It is celebrated in the month of Chingam, which is also the first month according to the Malayalam Calendar. This year, Onam was between 7th and 14th September – in 2015, Atham (the day the pookalam flower decorations are placed outside the home) will start the festivities off on August 18th, and Oman itself will be celebrated on August 28th.
Why is Onam Celebrated?
This Indian festival is celebrated in memory of King Mahabali and this month is to welcome his spirit. The legend goes that during the rule of the famous Asura King, Mahabali, Kerala saw its golden age. People get busy in making efforts to celebrate the festival in a big way to impress their erstwhile King.
4 Onam Celebration Ideas to Try with your Kids
Preparing Food at Home with Kids (Onamsadya)
An extraordinary part of the Onam celebrations is a big feast called Onamsadya. It is a meal that has nine courses with more than thirty dishes that are served on plantain leaves. Following these recipes together is one of many great Onam activities for kids, perfect for getting the children involved in the festivities. It is really good fun to prepare the food with your children and serve it on banana leaves.
Children are likely to get stains on their clothes after the completion of this meal and feast, but as long as there is Surf excel Liquid Detergent in the house, there is nothing to worry about. Here are a few fun recipes that you can try with your kids:
Grind coconut and combine it with a cup of water and little milk in a mixer and set that aside. Next, melt the jaggery in a pan into a syrupy state. Its impurities could be strained out. Now wash and soak raw rice for about fifteen minutes and pressure cook it by adding three-fourth a cup of water. The rice should not become mushy.
Add the jaggery syrup to the cooked rice and boil it well. Then the coconut milk from the mixer can be added and boiled for about five minutes on a low flame. Kids will love a dash of roasted nuts and grated coconut on the payasam.
Chop cucumber and keep aside. Mix ground green chillies and coconut and temper with mustard and curry leaves. Add thick curd to it just before serving.
Dry grind jeera, green chillies and coconut coarsely and keep aside. Heat oil in a pan, allow mustard seeds to splutter in it. Now add curry leaves and red chillies and then the ground mixture. Sauté for a few minutes. Add onions, cabbage and salt and mix thoroughly before serving.
Helping Kids Make the Traditional Pookkalam
One of the most creative Onam celebration ideas you can try is making the traditional Onapookkalam or the floral carpet. The creation of a basic design begins with taking powdered rice and making designs with it. It might be difficult for your child to control the designs with rice, so the best way to teach kids is to allow them to draw one with a piece of chalk.
The next big step in the learning process is the art of shredding the flowers. The petals have to be shred, using different flowers to get diverse colours. You can teach your kids the art of shredding without damaging the petals. The actual floral carpet is then shaped out of the gathered petals to arrive at a decorated design – you can find out more about how to make Pookalam with kids here!
This is similar to the way a Rangoli is made in Northern India.
Onam Celebration Decorations – Flowers and Paints
Decoration can be done with many varieties of flowers that have varied tints. They can be pinched into small pieces to serve the purpose of decoration. People also paint their bodies on the fourth day of the celebrations in shades of yellow and black to resemble tigers, and they wear masks for the Grand Pulikali (tiger dance). Kids love it most and also get into the action.
They dance to the beats of the Udukku and Thakil instruments. When the painting and dancing is over, it is bound to leave some color stains on the clothes. These stains could easily be taken care of by Surf excel.
Onam Activities for Kids Outside the Home – Carnivals, Exhibitions, Melas and Sports
For children particularly, it is a treat to be a part of the carnival that marks the culmination of this great festival. Taking kids out and involving them in the vast spectrum of mesmerising Onam activities including carnivals, exhibitions and melas (fairs) helps them to understand the rich legacy of Kerala.
How do you plan to celebrate Onam with your kids? Share your plans with us in the comment box below!