The annual celebrations surrounding Onam, the most important festival of Kerala, have been marred by the devastating floods that have wrecked the state and its economy. Onam, the ten-day harvest festival that started on August 15, concludes on Saturday, August 25, with Thiruonam.

With nearly 50,000 houses damaged, and over 10 lakh people still camping in relief shelters, the flood-ravaged state has had to give Onam celebrations a miss this year.

On Friday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan issued a statement urging the people to celebrate the festival by helping those affected by the “the worst disaster” in the state’s history.

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Vijayan tweeted: “Let’s celebrate this #Onam by bringing help to those among us who are suffering. More than a million of our people are in relief camps. We have together survived the worst disaster in our State’s history. Let us also set an example in rebuilding efforts.”

The famous Nehru trophy boat race in Alappuzha, celebrated every year to mark Onam, was put off soon after the torrential rains started to pound Kerala on August 8. The race was to be held on August 11, Saturday.

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Onam falls in the beginning of Chingam, the first month of Malayalam Calendar, and is celebrated by Malayalees across religious communities all over the state and the world.

Elaborate feasts, popularly known as Onam sadya or Onasadya, songs and dances usually mark the annual festival.

However, while Kerala is not celebrating Onam, most of the Malayalees living outside the state have also decided to skip the Onam 2018 celebrations in solidarity with the flood-affected families back home.