The high season

Onam, the harvest festival, traditionally provides a boost to the Kerala economy during the otherwise dull months of monsoon.

Published: 09th September 2019 06:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th September 2019 06:50 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

Onam, the harvest festival, traditionally provides a boost to the Kerala economy during the otherwise dull months of monsoon. From online stores and high-street boutiques to vegetable sellers, textile and gold shops, and white goods and auto showrooms, no one is sparing any effort to get the Keralites spend. While Onam is an essential part of Kerala’s culture, it’s the commercial aspect of the festival that is gaining prominence. Express takes a look at the buzzing market.

Sadya is one of the most important elements of Onam. Served on a banana leaf, the traditional sadya has 27 items, which are served in order. In South Kerala, sadya is tradition-bound and comprises only vegetarian dishes, while in some parts of North Kerala like Kannur, non-vegetarian dishes, especially chicken, are included.

All figures are approximate

Folk art forms

Onappottan or Oneswaran is a ritual performed by the Malayar community. Onappottan visits houses carrying ‘Olakkuda’, an umbrella made of palmyra leaves and decorated with tender leaves of coconut tree Where: Kannur and Kozhikode

The performers wear colourful wooden masks representing mythological characters and dance to the folk songs in praise of Mahabali.

A traditional folk art performed by members of the Vannan community during Onam season. A boy from Vannan community dresses up as Onatheyyam and visits houses.Where: Kannur and Kasaragod

Pulikali is a folk art form in which artists paint their bodies with stripes of yellow and black, as that of a tiger, and dance to the rhythm of percussion instrument chenda. Where: Thrissur and Kollam

Thumbi Thullal
An all-woman dance performance in which women stand in a circle and beat a girl sitting in the centre with thumba plants.  Where: Palakkad

Thrikkakara Appan or Onathappan is a pyramid-like structure made of clay with four faces and a flat top. It is placed on top of figures drawn on the floor using rice flour. A pookkalam or floral carpet is laid around it. Where: Ernakulam

A martial ritual in which people form two teams and beat members of the opposite team with bare hands. Where: Kottayam, Thrissur

Velan thullal
Members of Velan community perform Velan Thullal or Onam Thullal on Uthradam and Thiruvonam days. The team performs in front of the local temple and roams around the streets, visiting houses.
Where: Kottayam

Aranmula Uthrittathi boat race
A customary snake boat race in the Pampa associated with Aranmula Parthasarathy temple.Where: Pathanamthitta


Pakkanarattom (Central Kerala)
Kaikottikali /Thiruvathirakali (South Kerala)
Bhairavikali (Central Travancore)
Uthradapattu (North Kerala)


Around 25 tonnes of flower flood the markets from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu

Rose, chrysanthemum (jamanthi) and vada mulla, different varieties of oleanders (arali), jasmine, tagetes (a marigold variety) and banthi are some of the flowers that decorate the pookkalams of Malayalees

Thiruvananthapuram and Palakkad account for around 5 tonnes each

Around C25-28 lakh being spent by Keralites each day to make floral carpets

Yellow banthi (C80*), orange banthi (C90), pink arali (oleander) (C200), white jamanthi  (C350) and tuberose (C200) are some of the other flowers available 
in the flower market.

The price of red and white oleanders is expected to go up to C600 a kg in the coming days.

Tagetes, a marigold variety, costs about C70 to C80 a kg, while red oleander and white oleander cost up to C300 per kg.

 Keralites consume around 25 lakh tonnes of vegetables annually
The consumption is around 7,000 tonnes per day
 The government-run Horticorp provides around 6,000 tonnes of vegetables to market during four days of Onam  


F1,264.69 cr

The gross sales figure during Onam month last year
State has 306 Bevco outlets and 450 bar hotels

C40 cr
Average per-day collection 


A 10,000 cr

The annual business turnover of the sector 
30-40% rise in the sale of garments during Onam days
Ernakulam, Kozhikode, Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram account for the bulk of the sale

 Per-day sale: 100kg-150kg
Onam days: 200kg
 F2,000-2,500 crore is the Onam sale in 10 days
500-600 kg gold to be sold during Onam days
 10-15% rise in sale during Onam season

From flowers to rice, the items needed for celebration of Onam come from our neighbouring 

Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana

Tamil Nadu, Karnataka 
 Banana leaf
Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli, Udangudi (Tamil Nadu)
Puliyankudi (Tamil Nadu), Coorg (Karnataka) and 
Andhra Pradesh

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