Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Entertainment Activities During Onam

Onam, the largest festival of Kerala has already started which is roughly a two week celebration.It started this year on 'Atham star Day' (Tuesday 21 August 2012) and the grand festival days are on 28,29,30 and 31 Aug 2012 out of which the main day is 29 Aug  which is 'Thiru Onam Day'.The celebration is up to 3 Sept and on that day the Government sponsored celebrations at Trivandrum and all District Headquarters will also cease.On 3 Sept there will be a splendid procession of a large scale at Trivandrum city in the evening.
From 21 Aug to 29 sept a flower arrangement in circular shape known as 'Pookkalam' using fresh flowers of different varieties are put in front of the houses early in the morning by girls of the family.The necessary flower buds are collected by boys 
daily evening by climbing on trees,walls etc.Now a days many people have to buy flowers from the market.
The enthusiasm of Onam is great and traditionally there are several playful entertainment activities carried out during this period.
Thiruvathira Kali
Thiruvathira Kali is also known as 'Kaikottikali' which is a traditional dance form of Kerala performed by women.Young girls up to middle aged women can participate in it but usually participants will be of the same age group for a particular 'Thiruvathira Kali'.The players wear Kerala style white clothes with golden or coloured border(Set Sari or Mundu and Neryathu).Usually eight or ten participants stand in a circular shape around a lighted brass oil lamp with wicks and dances to the tune of songs sung by other women.The players may sing along while dancing and the steps and movements are very much fascinating and charming.The elegance of the slowly played dance may occasionally turns vibrant and with swift movements they form different patterns go clockwise then anticlockwise, clap hands each other ,gentle hops are also there in between and all together the spectators can enjoy feminine beauty gracefully.The players also enjoys with their rhythmic, joyous  dancing.Thiruvathirakali is largely performed during 'Dhanu' month(Dec-Jan) but during Onam also this is a pastime and entertainment item for women.
Puli Kali or Kaduva Kali
This is a 300 year old Dance item performed by men during Onam days largely in Trissur and Palakkad Districts but can be seen everywhere in Kerala in small scale during Onam period.The men paint their body with yellow,black and red colour after shaving off the body hair and turn themselves to Tigers or Leopards.In a play there may be two or three players painted like this and another man with  a toy gun act as a hunter.The tiger and leopard characters with  painted body  and wearing masks dance to the tune of drums.They will display wonderful dancing talents  which requires proper training and stamina also.They will pounce as a tiger,jump,run;  all according to the drum beats.The spectators also join in the dance occasionally.On the fourth day of Onam, at Trissur Swaraj Round hundreds of Tiger/Leopard Dancers assemble every year and perform together which is an attractive event.

The swing is made and slung on high branches of trees during Onam period and children and young girls love to play on it.In rural areas in each and every family we can see the swing during this time.Some children have the practice to fly high on the swing with amazing  control sitting and in standing posture also.
Snake Boat Race
Snake Boat Races are held at several places during Onam period in Kerala.The "Uthrittathi Boat Race' at Aranmula in Pathanamthitta District is the biggest event which will be on 2 Sept 2012 this year.Snake boat races at Paippadu,Kumarakom,Neerettupuram,Thiruvanvandoor,Chengannur(Erapuzha),
etc are main events in this regard which attracts thousands of spectators.
Kummatti Kali
This is a dance form of Northern Kerala  performed during  Onam.The players cover their body with a special type of grass and leaves and wear wooden masks.They wear masks of  Gods and evil characters like Shiva,Krishna,Hanuman,Darika,Kiratha, etc.An old lady character by name 'Thamma' will be also there.The players moves from house to house and dances according to the tune of a musical instrument known as 'Ona Villu'.
This dance variety  does not need any proper training and the spectators also dances along with them usually.
Thumbi Thullal
This was a pastime for women in the villages during Onam period.Usually it is played by young girls.They sit around and one of them sit at the centre covering her face with a herbal plant known as 'Thumba' which bears small white flowers.The girls sing 'Onapattukal' meant for 'Thumbi Thullal'.The word 'Thumbi' means Dragon Fly.When the chorus of the girls continue for some time  the centre girl will dance in sitting posture moving her body  in sway to and fro and side to side.

These are some famous playful activities in the State during Onam  but several other entertainment activities of Onam are also seen regionally.

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