What is Onam and why it is celebrated?
Onam is a harvest festival that is primarily celebrated in the southern Indian state of Kerala. It is one of the most significant cultural festivals in Kerala, and it is celebrated over a period of ten days, typically falling in the months of August or September.
According to Hindu mythology, Onam is celebrated to commemorate the homecoming of King Mahabali, who is believed to have ruled over Kerala in the distant past. Legend has it that King Mahabali was a righteous and just ruler, who was loved by his subjects. His reign was considered to be a golden age in Kerala’s history, where everyone was equal, and there was no crime, corruption, or poverty.
It is believed that Lord Vishnu, who was jealous of King Mahabali’s popularity, disguised himself as a poor Brahmin and asked for three feet of land from the king. King Mahabali, being a man of his word, granted the Brahmin’s wish. However, the Brahmin then revealed himself to be Lord Vishnu and measured the entire universe with his first two steps and asked for a place to put his third step. King Mahabali, realizing that the Brahmin was none other than Lord Vishnu, offered his head for the third step, which led to his banishment to the underworld.
The story of Onam symbolizes the triumph of good over evil, and the festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and joy by the people of Kerala. The ten-day festival is marked by various cultural and traditional activities, such as the decoration of homes with intricate floral designs, known as ‘Pookalam,’ and the preparation of a grand feast known as ‘Onasadya.’ The feast comprises of a variety of traditional vegetarian dishes served on banana leaves and is believed to be the highlight of the festival.
In conclusion, Onam is a significant cultural festival celebrated in Kerala to commemorate the homecoming of King Mahabali, and it symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. The festival is marked by various cultural and traditional activities, and it is a time for people to come together and celebrate their cultural heritage.