Onam 2023: Uthradam, Ninth Day Of The Harvest Festival

Onam, the vibrant and exuberant harvest festival of Kerala is well underway and the 28th of August marks the ninth and penultimate day of the celebration, known as Uthradam. The festival and the sadhya capture the essence of the state's culture, tradition, and folklore over ten days, and commemorate the return of legendary King Mahabali to his kingdom while also marking the beginning of the harvest season. 

Each day of Onam holds its own significance, and Uthradam is particularly special. Uthradam marks the eve of Thiruvonam, the most crucial day of Onam festivities and is the peak of everyone’s excitement. It’s believed that Uthradam is the day that Mahabali reaches Kerala and will spend the next four days touring his kingdom and handing out blessings. As Kerala adorns itself in a kaleidoscope of colours, Uthradam emerges as a day filled with fervour, preparation, and joy.

Uthradam, often referred to as "First Onam," is characterised by a palpable sense of excitement and anticipation. This day is when the elaborate preparations for the grand Thiruvonam celebrations begin in earnest. It's a time for families to go to the markets to buy all the fresh vegetables that will be needed for the sadhya feast. Homes undergo a thorough cleaning and sprucing up and the intricate flower rangolis, known as "Pookalams," are freshened with new flowers at the entrance of houses to welcome King Mahabali.

In the past, Uthradam used to be the day when tenants of Nayar Tharavads (a system where joint families would share a common house and kitchen) would bring produce from their farms to the head of the household as OnakazOnam 2023: Uthradam, The Ninth Day Of The Festival And It's Meaningch, a gift or offering. Artisans would also offer handcrafts and everyone would be rewarded for their generosity. 

Uthradam serves as a bridge between the anticipation and the culmination of the grand festival. It sets the tone for the much-awaited Thiruvonam, infusing homes and hearts with a sense of unity, tradition, and merriment. Through cleaning, decorating, shopping, cooking, and acts of kindness, Uthradam encapsulates the essence of Onam's rich cultural heritage and the spirit of togetherness that defines this festive occasion. As families across Kerala and beyond engage in these customs, they honour the legacy of King Mahabali while creating lasting memories that add another vibrant chapter to the tapestry of Onam celebrations