Onam is an annual holiday and festival celebrated in Kerala, India. According to legends, the festival is celebrated to commemorate King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam. Onam is a major annual event for Malayali people in and outside Kerala.

What do we eat on Onam?

The usual items in an Onam dish/cuisine include: Kaaya (Banana chips), Chena Varuthatha (Yam chips), Sarkara Upperi (Jaggery coated banana chips), mango pickle, lime pickle, puli inji (tamarind & ginger chutney), kichadi (gourd in mildly spiced yoghurt), panchadi (pineapple in yoghurt) & Olan (ash gourd with black eyed peas, coconut and ginger).

What do people wear on Onam?

Mostly during the celebrations, girls and woman of Kerela wear Kasavu sarees, which are white in colour with gold thread.

What activities do people participate in during this festival?

Vallam Kali is a traditional boat race in Kerela, India. It is a form of canoe racing, and uses paddled war canoes. it is mainly conducted during the season of the harvest festival Onam in spring. Vallam Kali includes races of many kinds of paddled longboats and ‘snake boats’.

Children in Nursery and Reception learnt all about a king called MahaBali’, who ruled in India a long time ago. They were introduced to a little boy called ‘Vaman’, who came to the king’s kingdom and asked for 3 footsteps worth of land. The children watched an animated story showcasing the events that took place in the story and were taught the moral behind the events.

The children then had a go at working in small groups to create a ‘Vallam kali’- a boat using recycled materials. Have a look at their creations. What resources will you use to create your own ‘Vallam Kali’?