Onam is the most auspicious and the biggest festival of Kerala celebrated in the Malayalam month of ‘Chingam’ (Aug-Sept). In Kerala, Onam is a harvest festival being celebrated with joy and happiness by people of all communities. As per scriptures, Onam celebration is meant to welcome the demon King Mahabali. It is believed that King Mahabali’s spirit visits his people in Kerala at the time of Onam.
Onam is a carnival that lasts from the four to ten days and the Onam eve is celebrated on the tenth day as Thiruvonam. The first day, Atham and tenth day, Thiruonam both are considered to be the most important among all other days. Onam is also known as the day of wealth and abundance. During this carnival, the popularity and presentation of the rich culture of Kerala declared it as a National Festival of Kerala in 1961. Elaborate feasts, folk songs, energetic games, elephants, elegant dances, boats, and flowers decoration all are the part of this dynamic festival. During Onam carnival, thousands of domestic and foreign tourists visit Kerala and be a part of the festival.
Legend Behind the Onam Celebration
According to mythology, the demon King Mahabali was the grandson of Prahlada, the Vishnu devotee. Prahlada’s grandson Mahabali came to power by defeating the Devas (gods) and taking over the three worlds. The defeated Devas approached Lord Vishnu for rescuing them in their battle with Mahabali. But, Lord Vishnu refused to join the gods against Mahabali as he was a good ruler and a great Vishnu devotee. Everybody in his state was happy and prosperous, and the king was highly regarded by his subjects. The gods felt very much challenged by Mahabali's growing popularity. But apart from all his virtues, Mahabali was very much egoistic, and this weakness was utilized by the gods to bring an end to his reign. After victory over the gods, he decided to perform Yajna (homa-the fire prayer) where he declared that he would fulfill any request of anyone during the Yajna. Now, upon repeated request of all gods, Lord Vishnu decided to destroy Mahabali’s ego by testing his devotion towards him. So, Lord Vishnu disguised himself as a dwarf boy named Vamana and approached the demon King Mahabali. The king offered him gold, cow, elephants, village, and much more. But the boy said that the one must not seek more than one needs, and all he needs is the property right over a piece of land that measures ‘three paces’, and Mahabali agreed.
The boy Vamana grew and covered everything Mahabali ruled over in just two paces. For the third pace, Mahabali offered himself. Vamana gently placed his foot on Mahabali’s bowed head, and upon his request, he sent him to Patala Loka, the land of his ancestors. This act of Mahabali revealed his true devotion towards Lord Vishnu. Being pleased with Mahabali’s devotion, Lord Vishnu granted him a boon that he could visit his lovable people once every year. Hence, this revisit of the demon King Mahabali is celebrated as a grand festival ‘Onam.’
This rich cultural pride of Kerala comes out in its best during the ten days long festival. People of Kerala make elaborate preparations to celebrate this best moment. One of the special features of Onam is the grand feast called Onasadya, which is prepared on Thiruonam. It is a nine-course meal consisting of 11 to 13 special recipes. To have the meal 'Onasadya,' which is served on a banana leaf, people need to sit on the mat laid on the floor.
Another specialty of Onam is ‘Vallamakali,’ the Snake Boat Race. This race held on the river Pampa. It’s a great pleasure to watch the colorfully decorated boats oared by hundreds of boatmen amidst chanting of songs and cheered by the spectators.
Invoke the blessings of Lord Vishnu's Vamana Avatar on Onam to Receive 8 Types of Wealth Blessings and Gain Abundance
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