The vibrant and joyful festival of Onam is known by two different names in Kerala. The names are Thiru Onam or Thiruvonam, and Sravanmahotsav or Sravanotsavam. These names are of the tenth day of Onam festival. The colourful festival of Onam has not only names but also prescribed set of rituals. Traditional festivities are allotted for each day of the ten-day-long festival. The events and rituals make Onam a very special and endearing occasion.
Ten days of Onam Festival:
1) First day of Onam is known as Atham and it is of great significance. People commence making Pookalam from this day. They wait for King Maveli to visit their house. The colourful procession Athachamyam is also carried in Kochi to mark the arrival of Onam.
2) Second day of Onam is known as Chithira. There are no major customs for this day. Girls add more flowers to the already existing Pookalam to make the design more colourful.
3) Third day of Onam is known as Chothi or Chodi. People indulge in shopping on this day. They ensure that they have made every effort to take care of everything required for Onam.
4) Fourth day of Onam is known as Vishagam or Visakam. Only a few days are left for Thiru Onam excitement is palpabale amongst the people. Women become busy in making prior preparations of the grand meal called Onasadya.
5) Fifth day of Onam is known as Anizham. Major highlight of this day is the grand race called Vallamkali. This takes place on the banks of the river Pampa at Aranmulla.
6) Sixth day of Onam is known as Triketta or Thriketa. Large number of cultural programmes are organised in various parts of Kerala. All over the state, a general atmosphere of excitement and mirth prevails.
7) Seventh day of Onam is known as Moolam. Markets are busy with lots of activities. Lots of people do their last bit of shopping on this day. Fresh flowers are added to the same Pookalam that has an even more interesting design.
8) Eighth day of Onam is known as Pooradam. On this day people make clay idols in the shape of small pyramids called a Ma. Since the idol is created on the day of Pooradam, it is also called Poorada Uttigal.
9) Ninth day of Onam is known as Utradam or Uthradam. This significant day is the penultimate day to Thiruvonam. In some places of Kerala, celebrations begin from Utradam.
10) Tenth day of Onam is known as Thiruvonam or Sravanotsav. This day is the most important and auspicious day. People believe that on this day spirit of King Maveli visits his people in Kerala. Each of these two names has a special significance for the people of Kerala. Some scholars believe that the two names are related. The present popular name Thiru Onam has come from Sravanotsavam.