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Travel - My Discovery of India - Onathappan

Onathappan, a clay pyramid structure with four faces and a flat top used during Onam celebrations in Kerala, symbolizes Thrikkakara Appan or Thrikakkarappan. This unique structure represents Vamana, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. For some people the pyramid represents both King Maveli and Vishnu. It is also referred as Onathappan. Thrikkakarappan is the presiding deity in the famous Thrikakkara temple in Ernakulam District of Kerala and is closely associated with the Onam myth.

The structure is made using clay or mud and generally has four faces with a flat top. While welcoming King Mahabali to their homes, people place Thrikkakara Appan on a bed made of rice flour decked with flowers and pujas are performed. Some people believe that the unique shape of Thrikkakara Appan – the four faces – represents the four stages in the life of a human being. Usually, people place three structures which represent the three steps of land asked by Vamana to King Mahabali.

Photo by Babish VB

Onam - Enjoy the Kerala Experience

Every year after the monsoon departs from Kerala's shores, the coastal state prepares to welcome its mythical king, Mahabali or Maveli as he is fondly known. Ironic and interesting that in a state that every now and then elects into office a Communist government, religion and tradition thrive with unabated fervour. While Kerala does come alive during Christmas, Eid and Vishu, the most festive season is Onam, the 10-day run up to the grand harvest festival of Thiruvonam. For the most noticeable sign that Onam is in the air, glance at doorsteps for bright pookalams, or flower carpets. The smell of cooking -- vegetarian, mostly -- rends the air and giant Onam papadams and banana chips are consumed without a care for blood cholesterol levels. Delicious payasams are on the menu almost every day, and kids get two weeks' break from school to enjoy the festivities. Snake boat races and special cultural programmes draw big crowds. The holiday mood is pervasive. Not that Kerala is particularly industrious when it comes to moving files, but you can forget about getting any work done with government departments during the time. Of course, an invitation to a nice home-cooked Kerala sadhya can pardon all of that.

This festive season, enjoy the colours of Kerala in this lovely collection of Flickr images. Add your Onam images to our Flickr group pool.

Happy Onam!