Onam, a vibrant and jubilant festival celebrated with great fervour in the state of Kerala, holds a significant place in the cultural ethos of the region. Celebrating the fabled return of the revered King Mahabali, a ten-day festival ensues, steeped in vibrant mythology and time-honored customs. This period is thought to mark a golden age in Kerala’s history, characterized by abundant prosperity and joy. The celebration is a spectacular blend of cultural events, feasts, music, and dance. The residents of Kerala, irrespective of religion, partake in this festival, making it a unifying occasion that strengthens social harmony. It’s not just the festival’s festive spirit that captivates attention but also the substantial surge in business activities. More than a cultural extravaganza, Onam is a time of economic escalation for Kerala, with businesses exploiting the festival’s potential to maximise their profits.

The Onam Shopping Spree.

A notable characteristic of the Onam season is the surge in shopping, with consumers flocking to stores to fulfil their festive needs. With heightened consumer engagement, businesses seize the opportunity to provide a broad range of products and services.

Home appliance stores witness a significant boost in sales as customers seek the latest gadgets to adorn their homes. From state-of-the-art kitchen appliances to advanced entertainment systems, the demand for household electronics escalates during this period.

Clothing stores, particularly those selling traditional attire, enjoy an influx of customers. The customary ‘Kasavu Saree’ for women and ‘Mundu’ for men are sought-after commodities during Onam, and textile businesses, both large and small, see a substantial rise in their profit margins.

The sale of gold jewellery, another significant aspect of the Onam tradition, also spikes, contributing to the economic boom. Malayalis often invest in gold during this time, not just as an adornment for the festivities but also as a secure investment.

Food-related businesses, especially those involved in selling special ‘Payasams’ and ‘Onam Sadyas,’ enjoy a thriving market during Onam. Restaurants and bakeries offering these delicacies observe a significant surge in business.

The need for flowers for ‘Pookalam,’ the traditional floral carpet, and crackers for celebrations provides an additional avenue for businesses to flourish. The sale of flowers and crackers exponentially grows, adding to the overall Onam business escalation.

In essence, the Onam season is a boon for all businesses in Kerala, as the festival’s festive spirit is intertwined with a significant elevation in commercial activities.

Home Appliances.

The Onam season witnesses a significant rise in the sale of home appliances. With the festive spirit permeating every household, there is a distinct inclination towards revamping and modernising home interiors. Retail shops experience an influx of consumers looking for the latest models of home appliances, ranging from refrigerators to washing machines and televisions to kitchen gadgets. These businesses respond to the increased demand by launching new products and offering enticing discounts and promotions. Some shops even offer ‘Onam-special’ packages where multiple appliances are bundled together at attractive rates. Consequently, the profits for home appliance businesses skyrocket during this period, making Onam a critical season for their annual revenue.

Traditional and branded clothing business during Onam.

Onam brings with it an inevitable surge in the demand for both traditional and branded clothing. Most prevalent is the interest in traditional wear, with the iconic white and gold ‘Kasavu Saree’ and ‘Mundu’ becoming wardrobe essentials for women and men, respectively. These garments, worn during the Onam celebrations, symbolise the cultural heritage and ethos of Kerala. Local textile businesses and designers take this opportunity to exhibit their craftsmanship, often infusing contemporary designs with the traditional ‘Kasavu’, thereby catering to the younger generation’s preferences.

Simultaneously, branded clothing stores leverage the festive shopping spree as well. Modern attire, western wear, as well as designer ethnic collections, see a rise in sales. Brands often release special ‘Onam collections’ and offer festive discounts to attract a larger customer base.

The intermingling of tradition and modernity during the Onam season provides a unique opportunity for both traditional textile businesses and branded clothing stores to flourish. The sales they achieve during this period often contribute significantly to their annual revenue, underscoring the commercial importance of the Onam festival season.

Gold Jewellery: A Shimmering Onam Tradition.

In Kerala, the tradition of buying gold during Onam is remarkably prevalent. The festival is considered an auspicious occasion for investing in gold, and it’s not uncommon for families to purchase gold jewellery as a part of their Onam celebrations. This tradition is driven not just by the cultural significance of gold in festivities but also by the belief in gold as a secure and tangible investment.

For jewellery businesses, this surge in demand for gold during Onam is indeed a golden portunity. Jewellers prepare for the festival by increasing their stocks, introducing new designs, and offering special Onam discounts and schemes to attract customers. The variety ranges from traditional Kerala designs to more modern and contemporary pieces, catering to the diverse tastes of the consumers.

Moreover, major jewellery brands often launch exclusive ‘Onam Collections’, incorporating traditional motifs and designs relevant to the festival, further enticing customers. The boost in sales during this period significantly contributes to the annual revenues of these businesses, making Onam a critical period for the jewellery industry in Kerala.

In essence, the tradition of buying gold during Onam not only enriches the festivities but also significantly boosts the economy of the state, underscoring the unique intertwining of tradition and commerce that characterises this vibrant festival.

Fried Chips and Snacks: An Essential Onam Delight.

The Onam festival in Kerala is incomplete without the myriad of traditional snacks that add flavour to the celebrations. From the famous banana chips and jackfruit chips to the lesser-known tapioca chips and sweet potato chips, these crispy delights are integral to any Onam ‘Sadya,’ the traditional feast.

During Onam, the demand for these fried chips skyrockets. Several local businesses, as well as larger snack companies, begin production in full swing, often months ahead of the festival. The chips, fried in coconut oil for an authentic taste, are then packaged and made ready for sale.

These businesses often introduce a variety of flavours, from salty to spicy to sweet, catering to different taste preferences. Some businesses also offer ‘Onam-special’ packages that include a variety of chips and snacks, providing an array of flavours in a single pack. This not only caters to the festive demand but also promotes new flavours and combinations for the customers.

Sales outlets, ranging from local roadside stalls to supermarkets, witness a significant increase in footfall as people flock to buy their favourite Onam snacks. Thus, the fried chip business, already popular in Kerala, receives an impressive boost during Onam. This surge in sales contributes a significant sum to the profits of these businesses, augmenting the overall Onam business boom in the state.

Payasams: A Sweet Endorsement of Onam Celebrations and Businesses.

No Onam celebration is complete without the delicious, sweet delight known as payasam. This traditional dessert, typically served at the end of the Onam ‘Sadya’, comes in a variety of types, each with its own unique taste and texture. The popular types include the creamy ‘Paal Payasam, made with milk and rice; the ‘Ada Pradhaman, featuring rice ada and jaggery; the ‘Semiya Payasam, with its vermicelli goodness; and the rich ‘Chakka Pradhaman, made from ripe jackfruit.

The Onam season witnesses a sharp increase in the demand for these payasams. Several businesses, ranging from sweet shops and bakeries to catering services, capitalise on this demand by offering a range of payasams. Some even introduce special ‘Onam Payasam’ packages that include a variety of these desserts, ensuring that customers can enjoy a spectrum of flavours in a single purchase.

Furthermore, the business potential extends to the ingredients of these payasams as well. Shops selling ingredients like rice ada, jaggery, coconut milk, and spices also experience a surge in sales during the Onam season. This reflects the comprehensive economic impact of the payasam business, which contributes significantly to the overall onam business boom in Kerala.

Special Onam Sadhya:

The Onam Sadhya, a grandiose banquet featuring a vast array of vegetarian dishes, is the heart of Onam celebrations. It is traditionally served on a banana leaf, with dishes placed in a specific order, and is consumed with hands. The sadhya includes various pickles, curries, ‘dal’ served with ghee, and assorted ‘payasams’ for dessert, all of which are carefully prepared to deliver an explosion of flavours.

The Sadhya provides a remarkable business opportunity for restaurants and catering services. Many eateries, from small local establishments to high-end restaurants, offer their own unique versions of Onam Sadhya, attracting both locals and tourists. These restaurants often start taking pre-orders weeks in advance, and some even offer delivery services for those wishing to enjoy the feast at home. In addition to this, catering services see a rise in bookings as families and communities opt for professionally prepared sadhyas for their Onam get-togethers.

Furthermore, some innovative entrepreneurs have taken the sadhya to a global audience, offering packaged sadhya meals that can be shipped internationally. This allows those residing outside Kerala to partake in the Onam traditions, thereby extending the reach of Onam businesses far beyond the state’s borders.

In conclusion, the Onam Sadhya is not just a feast for the taste buds; it’s a feast for the economy as well, contributing significantly to the Onam business boom in Kerala.

Flower Shops.

The tradition of the Pookalam, or floral carpet, drives a significant increase in sales for flower shops during the Onam season. Pookalam, characterized by its detailed patterns and vibrant hues, is a fundamental element in the festivities of Onam. It is considered a symbol of cultural heritage and unison, and families across Kerala compete to create the most beautiful designs.

The demand for a variety of flowers in large quantities to create these floral carpets provides a massive boost to flower businesses. Local flower shops, as well as florists, see an incredible increase in footfall as people rush to buy the freshest and most vibrant flowers. From marigolds to roses, dahlias to orchids, every flower type has its place in the creation of Pookalam.

Many businesses seize this opportunity by offering ‘Pookalam kits’, which include an assortment of flowers and also provide guidelines for those new to the tradition. Furthermore, online flower delivery services also see a spike in orders as they cater to the increasing demand for convenience.

As a result, the tradition of Pookalam not only adds to the festive spirit of Onam but also injects a significant sum into the state’s economy. Therefore, it’s safe to say that the flower business plays a vital role in the economic boom of Onam in Kerala.

Cracker Shops.

Onam celebrations in central Kerala often resonate with the sound of traditional firecrackers, further enhancing the festive spirit. These firecrackers, locally known as ‘Onathappan’, are a symbol of joy and excitement, and their loud bursts signify the welcoming of King Mahabali, the mythical king associated with Onam.

Cracker shops experience a significant boost in sales during the Onam season as people rush to buy a variety of firecrackers. These range from the smaller, less noisy ‘flower pots, ideal for children, to the loud and dazzling ‘multi-shot crackers, that light up the night sky.

Safety is a central concern for these businesses, and they work hard to ensure the firecrackers they sell comply with safety regulations. Some shops also offer safety guidelines along with their products, instructing buyers on the safe use and disposal of firecrackers.

In addition to brick-and-mortar stores, online platforms have also started selling firecrackers, offering home delivery and a wider variety. This has expanded the reach of the firecracker business, allowing even those who cannot visit physical stores to participate in the tradition.

Thus, the tradition of using firecrackers during Onam contributes significantly to the festive economy in Kerala, making it an integral component of the Onam business boom.

Other Onam Business Ideas:

Onam is also the season of new clothes, locally known as ‘Onakkodi’. Every family member traditionally wears new clothes on the day of Thiruvonam, leading to a significant increase in the sales of apparel during this period. Clothing stores, both physical and online, offer a variety of Onam-themed collections, including traditional Kerala sarees, mundus, and kurta sets. Additionally, boutiques witness a rise in orders for customised ethnic wear, contributing to the overall boost in the fashion industry during Onam.

Handicrafts and festive decor are other business avenues that flourish during Onam. Artisans create and sell traditional artefacts like clay models, brass lamps, and intricate wood carvings that are highly sought-after for their cultural significance. Decorative items like paper lanterns, rangoli powders, and oil lamps also see a surge in sales.

Finally, the tourism industry reaps considerable benefits during Onam. Celebrated as ‘God’s Own Country’, Kerala acts as a magnet for a myriad of tourists who flock here to soak in the rich cultural tapestry. Hotels, resorts, and travel agencies offer special Onam packages, including sightseeing tours, Sadhya meals, and even participation in Pookalam competitions. This inflow of tourists contributes significantly to the economy, making tourism a key player in the Onam business landscape.

From clothing and handicrafts to tourism, the Onam season provides an array of profitable business opportunities that contribute to the vibrant and booming economy of Kerala during this festive period.


In summary, Onam is an immensely significant period for businesses in Kerala. From the food industry thriving on the demand for traditional Sadhya meals to the boom in flower shops due to the Pookalam tradition, every aspect of the celebrations provides an opportunity for entrepreneurial growth. The sale of new clothes, handicrafts, festive decor, and even the demand for firecrackers all contribute to a vibrant business landscape during this season. In addition, the influx of tourists, attracted by the cultural vibrancy of the festival, boosts the state’s hospitality and tourism sectors. Hence, Onam is not only a cultural celebration but also a significant economic event, stimulating a substantial business boom in Kerala each year.

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