Kerala's famed temples are gearing up to hold special rituals to mark the Onam festival on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Thiruvonam, the main day of the Onam celebrations, is celebrated at the Sree Padmanabhaswami temple as the birthday of Lord Sree Padmanabhaswami.
On Thiruvonam day, Onavillus, handcrafted ceremonial bows, are offered to the deity. The wooden bows will have pictures depicting the story of Lord Maha Vishnu. The bows will have tassels on either side.
The bows which will be consecrated in the sanctum sanctorum will portray the themes of Ananthasayanam (the reclining posture of the lord), Dasavatharam (the ten incarnations), Sreerama Pattabhishekam (coronation of Lord Sree Rama), Lord Sree Sastha, Sreekrishna Leela and Lord Maha Ganapathi.
There will be special poojas and cultural programmes on the day. In the night, the ponnumseeveli, a colourful procession carrying the festival idol of Lord Sree Padmanabhaswami, would be held around the inner structure of the temple. The procession in the backdrop of the traditional percussion orchestra and oil lamps is a beautiful sight to behold. The head of the erstwhile Travancore royal family will escort the idol during the procession.
There will be a ceremonial feast for all devotees at the temple at noon.
At Thrikkakara Vamanamoorthy temple, the only temple in the state dedicated to Vamana, the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Onam is celebrated with elaborate rituals.
As per legend, Mahabali, who visits his subjects in Kerala every year during Onam, first arrives at Thrikkakara. Thousands of devotees from across the state throng the temple reminiscing the days of prosperity and equality.
On Uthradam, the ninth day of the festival, rituals will start with Sreebali at 7.30 am. The 'Thirumulkazha' event will start at 8 am where devotees will present banana bunches as offerings to the Lord. A sumptuous feast will be provided to 10,000 devotees on the occasion of Uthradam, the penultimate day of the festival. A 'Pakalpooram' parading nine caparisoned elephants will start at 4 pm.
On Wednesday, the Onam feast will begin at 10.30 am on the temple premises. Around 20,000 devotees are expected to participate in the feast. The festival will culminate with Arattu, the procession of the deity for a holy bath in the evening.
The most important ritual of Onam at Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple is 'Kazhchakula samarpanam', the presentation of 'nentran' banana bunches as an offering to the presiding deity. Devotees from across the state will throng the temple to present banana bunches to the deity. The ritual which starts at 7.30 am will continue till evening.
The banana bunches will be divided into three and one portion will be set aside to feed the temple elephants. A second portion will be used for preparation of 'pradhaman', the sweet pudding prepared using rice, jaggery and ripe banana. The third portion will be sold at an auction.
On Wednesday, the presiding deity will be presented with Onapudava, the traditional Kerala dress, at 4.30 am. A sumptuous Onam feast will be provided to 25,000 devotees.
The Lord Ayyappa temple here was opened on Monday for the four-day Onam celebrations. Melsanthi Vasudevan Nampoothiri opened the sreekovil in the presence of Thantri Mahesh Mohanaru at 5 pm. No ritual was performed at the sreekovil in the evening.
The four-day Onasadya offerings will begin on Tuesday. The Onasadya ceremony will be inaugurated by the thantri by lighting the traditional lamp in the presence of the melsanthi at 11 am.
The thantri will then offer the feast dishes, including sweets, on a plantain leaf in the name of Lord Ayyappa. On its conclusion, the feast will be distributed to devotees who offer worship at the temple.
A team of nearly 100 catering personnel will prepare and distribute the feast on all the four days. The Onasadya will conclude on September 13, Chathayam day.
Special rituals Kalabhabhishekam and Laksharchana will be performed at the temple as part of the celebrations on Tuesday. As part of Kalabhabhishekam, the thantri will perform Brahmakalasa pooja at the mandapam at 10 am in the presence of the melsanthi. Kalabhabhishekam on the idol of Lord Ayyappa will be performed during Uchcha pooja after the procession carrying the Brahmakalasam led by the thantri circumambulates the sreekovil.
Udayasthamana pooja, Padipooja and Pushpabhishekam will be performed at the temple on all the four days of the celebrations.
The temple will be closed at 10 pm on September 13 after Athazha pooja and Harivarasanam.