Onam is a harvest festival celebrated by all Malayalis irrespective of their religion or caste in the Indian state of Kerala. The festival commemorates the Vamana avatar of Vishnu and the subsequent homecoming of the legendary King Mahabali.
It falls during the month of Chingam (August–September) and lasts for ten days starting on Atham and ending on Thiruvonam.
Onam Celebrations has two most important significances in context of the Malayalee culture. First of all, it is celebrated as the harvest festival of the state. It reminds one of the golden age of prosperity when the entire month of Chingam (the month of Malayalee calendar that corresponds to the August- September time of Gregorian calendar) was celebrated as the Onam month.
It was the time when the farms of the state produced excess of food grains and brought prosperity and riches to the state. Arriving after the rain-drenched month of Karkidakam (July-August), Chingam was welcomed with much enthusiasm by the people of Kerala.
It is to be noted that each and every family try to save some amount from their monthly budget in order to meet the expense of Onam festival that falls in the month of August and September. This saving responsibility is taken care by the head of the family or the women folks. In the modern age, Chit Fund Company plays a major role in Onam celebration. Most of the chit fund maturity month falls in August and September so that the members can meet the Onam expenses.
The month of August and September in Kerala witnesses the Home coming of Non-resident Indians from abroad and Keralites who are staying in other states of India. The flight service, railways and bus service tickets are fully booked for upward and downward journey in the state.