Post date: Sep 16, 2013 4:10:28 PM

Onam is a festival of Kerala, celebrated in September.  Onam is celebrated in anticipation of the return of King Mahabali.   Legend claims that Mahabali returns to visit his kingdom and subjects once a year.   During his visit, people dress up, make floral designs and prepare a delicious feast.   Elders and youngsters join the celebrations.   The festivities include dances, boat races and games.  The festival lasts for 10 days, the main celebrations are on Thiruvonam, the day Mahabali visits his kingdom.


The story of Onam is this: Mahabali was an asura king who ruled over Kerala.  He was just and fair, and a very nice person.   During his reign, all people were considered equal, with no treachery or evilness.  One very auspicious day, Mahabali performed a yagna to set conquest of the heavens.   Vishnu, in the avatar of Vamana came to see Mahabali.    The king noticed the boy and welcomed him and fed him.   The king asked the boy to ask for whatever he desires.  “Can I have three steps of this land?” asked Vamana.  Mahabali graciously granted the boy’s wish.  The Brahman then grew as huge as the whole earth.  With his first stride Vamana covered the earth, and with his second step he covered the heavens.   “Where is my third pace of land?” Vamana asked.   Mahabali realized that the boy was none other than Lord Vishnu, and Mahabali lowered his head.   “Lord Vishnu, place your third step on my head, which is more valuable to me than all my possessions.”    Vishnu placed his third step on Mahabali, causing him to sink down into the Earth.   Vishnu was so pleased with Mahabali that he was ready to grant any boon.   Mahabali asked Vishnu to let him visit his kingdom once a year.  The festival of Onam is celebrated for the return of King Mahabali.

Wish you all a very Happy Onam

By Madhav Nair