The most spectacular event of all Kerala festivals, Onam epitomises a new found vigour and enthusiasm about everything. The festival celebrates the return of King Mahabali, who is said to visit his subjects each year. To convince their beloved King that Kerala continues to be prosperous land of milk and honey people decorate their homes and celebrate to the fullest sometimes even faking prosperity to present a happy and flourishing facade to their King.
Onam celebrates a harvest that lasts for 10 days making it a significant part of the Malayali psyche. Floral decorations (pookkalam) adorn courtyards welcoming Mahabali. Elaborate meals are served on banana leaves for which people sit down dressed in splendid new clothes called onakkodi. The swing is the integral part of Onam, especially in rural areas. The Pulikkali (tiger dance), Thiruvathira kali (folk dance only by women), and Vallamkali (traditional snakeboat races) are all the integral part of Onam. Onam falls in the Malayali month of Chingam, which relates to August-September in the Western calendar.