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Onam Festival, Kerala

Steal the Thrill From Relaxing Environs of 'God's Own Country' – Boat Races in Kerala (Aug-Sep 2014)

Location: Kerala
Dates: September 13, 2016
Highlights: Exhilarating boat races, wide-spread festivities, full ten days of celebrations

Question: What's the similarity between Facebook and Onam? Answer: Both are claimed with some ferocity by a bunch of rowers.

However, contrasted to options within Facebook, there is absolutely no way you can 'unlike' the thrilling boat race contests, the festive moods, and the verve in the air that the glorious festival of Onam brings with it. And of course, while Facebook was founded only in 2004, the real "social network" that Onam activates each year in the South Indian state of Kerala has its roots and motivations going back a few centuries if not a millennia.

The mythological origins of this beautiful festival lie in the fable that the gods plotted against King Mahabali, who was deeply loved by his subjects. Before being trampled down to the netherworld by Lord Vishnu, Mahabali was granted his sole wish: To be able to visit his land and people once every year.

For anyone interested in Indian culture, this Hindu festival is a must-see extravaganza, with the festivities being spread over ten days. The ten days serve up as a complete merriment package during a year, and are marked by the people feasting to the full, exhilarating boat races, loud and enthralling music and dance.

Inarguably, the highlight of the festivities is the 'Vallamkali' or boat races that take place in the water bodies across the state, the most prominent among them at Payippad, Aranmula and Kottayam. Dedicated teams of oarsmen row traditional boats in tightly-fought contests that are stirred up by the beats of drums and cymbals. To watch these long boats slither through the backwaters of Kerala is really what makes a visit to 'God's own country' (as Kerala is often known) very special. So if you are someone who won't mind some thrill in the midst of a calming vacation in the lap of the nature, set a date with Kerala! It might just be the best experience of your life!