Come Onam, Kerala is engulfed by a no-holds-barred festive spirit. With the dawn of the month of Chingam, the festive mood has already ushered in and will only escalate as the D-day approaches.
Experience of the past years has shown that festivities have exceeded and extended with every passing year. A significant component through which the festive spirit gets displayed is definitely shopping. The synonymity of Onam and shopping has become so high in recent years that shops and dealers make available a ‘discount’, an ‘offer’ or a ‘scheme’ with every conceivable product. Shops work overtime and on Sundays as well to cater to this bloated shopping fervour.
Onam is the time when families set aside a significant portion of their earnings for gifting. There is a heightened demand for gifts especially since the festival is the preferred time for Keralite families living outside the State and country to visit their home turf. Clothes rank high on the list of Onam gifts in keeping the custom of wearing ‘Onakodi’ or new clothes on the Onam day.
The consumerist nature of the marketplace ensures that there is enough choice available for every segment of consumers. There are options aplenty available for lower, middle and high income groups. While boutiques and designer outlets cater to the niche high-end customer, there is equal number of shops catering to the other categories. Besides making available wide and splendid variety, shopkeepers also hire additional hands to help cope with the rush. But as many a shop owner aver, it is near to impossible to satiate the varying demands of the buyer, especially during the Onam season.
The enticing offers made available by brands and dealers of electronic and white goods during the festival has meant that Onam is seen as the best time to make these purchases. The offers are so attractive that families are often found deferring purchases of such items till the Onam season. Some common incentives are slashed prices, freebies and exchange schemes. Exchange schemes especially find favour with people who are looking to discard their old models and get technologically updated ones. Colourful banners with information on product offers along with Onam greetings have come up in all major white goods dealers’ in the city.
Onam is also a time of vacation for students and the employed. To cash in on this vacation mood, tour operators have devised special Onam packages for those who wish to travel and explore during their time off. Tour packages are available for those looking forward to celebrating their Onam in popular hill stations as well as in exotic foreign locales.
Onam being the flag-ship State sponsored cultural event of all, exquisite pieces of art and highly rated cultural masterpieces get portrayed as part of the festivities. Art forms associated with Onam like Pulikali or Kuduvakali, Kummattikali, Kaikotti Kali or Thiruvathirakali and Thumbi Thullal are a special draw with tourists, especially foreigners. For the benefit of foreign tourists are available tailor-made packages that will help them enjoy Kerala culture at its majestic best.