Onam Games

The grand feast of Onam takes place at noon. After the feast, everyone steps out of the house for recreational activities like onam games and dancing. Women participate in dancing; young men go for sports whereas the elderly members enjoy indoor games like chess and cards. The outdoor activities include sport games like Talappanthukali, combat games like Kayyankali, archery, and others such as Thumbi Thullal, etc. Here is a detailed look at the sports and games played during Onam.

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Talappanthukali is a foot-ball game and one of the major outdoor games played during Onam. This onam game is extremely popular and considered to be an important game. The ball used for this game is called Pantukali and is prepared using a special method. It is in fact not a ball but some small pebbles wrapped in many layers of dried plantain leaves and given the shape of a ball. Fiber from coconut and plantain is used to tie these leaves and hold them together. The game is played between two teams in an open area. To play this game, a stick is planted at one end and a boundary is drawn at the opposite end, much like a cricket or baseball pitch. The aim is to throw the ball and hit the stick to win. If the players from the opposite side catch the ball then the player is out, otherwise he gets a chance to throw again.

Combats can be played between two people or in teams. Combats between two men are known as Kayyankali and those between teams is known as Attakalam.


This is a combat Onam game between two men and is very violent and dangerous. This Onam game demands a lot of strength and stamina. The two men fight with each other using fists. Elbows are used to defend an oncoming blow. The players can get severely wounded from the blows. The player who makes the other one fall to the ground wins the game. People gather around to cheer these players and the game can get very interesting if both players successfully defend blows.


People who love shooting usually participate in Ambeyyal as this is a game of archery. The game is played with bow and arrows – the bows are made from bamboo and the arrows are pretty blunt. This is a team game and is played to tests patience and accuracy. However, unlike real archery, where arrows are to be aimed at the central point of the board, here the arrows have to be seized by the opposite team.


This Onam game is very similar to Kabbadi with little variations. In this game, players are divided into two teams of eight each. The area of play is in a rectangular shape and is marked and divided for both teams. To play this game, a player from one group approaches the middle line that divides the teams and then advances into the other team’s area saying the words ‘Kutukutu’ continuously. He then has to touch all players from the other team and get back safely into his team’s area without being caught by the other team. If the other team’s players catch him and he stops saying the words ‘Kutukutu’ then he is out of the game. This is repeated by each player from the first team. After every player has finished his turn from the first team, the other team starts sending players.