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Onam (Kerala)

Onam Festival

Onam is a regional festival celebrated in the state of Kerala and is also known as the harvest festival. The ten day long festival is celebrated in the Chingam month of the traditional Malayali calendar and is one of the oldest Hindu celebrations in the region that brings to fore the various aspects of the culture and traditions of Kerala.

The Legend Of Onam
Onam is also celebrated to mark the homecoming of demon King Mahabali, who has held in high regard by the people of Kerala since the ancient times. It is said that the state witnessed its golden period under the rule of the legendary king Mahabali and they enjoyed freedom, prosperity and harmony. There is a famous legend associated with Mahabali and the festival of Onam, which is as follows.

It is said that seeing the happiness and prosperity of the subjects of Mahabali, made Gods jealous and they asked Lord Vishnu to snatch his kingdom. The Gods were successful in convincing Vishnu, that Mahabali posed a threat to them and this led Vishnu to pay a visit to a king in the form of a dwarf Brahmin named Vamana. He then asked the king to donate him as much land for a living as could be measured by his three steps.

King Mahabali, promised to give Vamana the said land, although his Guru Shukracharya had already warned him about the plan of the Gods. On getting the assurance from the king, Vamana suddenly increased his size tremendously. He then took one step to measure the entire earth and with his next step he measured the heavens.  With no place left for the Brahmin to take his third step, Mahabli offered him his own end, being well aware that it would cause his death. Impressed by the honesty and generosity of Mahabali, Lord Vishnu granted him the boon of being able to visit his people once every year and this is how the festival of Onam was started.

Celebrating Onam
Onam is one of the few Indian festivals in which the celebrations majorly consist of cultural events and performances. Since the ten day long festival is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, decoration of houses with flower carpets and rangolis, as preparation of special dishes is a common sight.

In addition the festivities are marked by the organization of elaborate banquet lunches, snake boat races, folk dance performance and musical concerts, to convince Mahabali about the well being and prosperity of his citizens.


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