A diverse country with diverse culture is how we can define India as. This diversity can be seen in the way we celebrate various festivals. As the southern state of India, Kerala is all set for the Onam festival amidst all the natural calamities.
The mythological story behind Onam
Onam is a seasonal Harvest festival in the God’s Own Country Kerala. It happens on the 22nd Nakshatra Thiruvonam in the Malayalam calendar month of Chingam, which in Gregorian calendar overlaps with August–September. According to stories, the festival is honoured to memorialise King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala during the time of Onam.
The story goes like King Mahabali defeated the Gods (Devas) in a battle and won over the three worlds. The defeated Gods approached Lord Vishnu, and the Lord took the avatar of Vamana and visited Mahabali. The king offered to grant whatever he wished. The boy asked for “three paces of the land” which Mahabali agreed.
Vamana grew to a gigantic size and embraced everything Mahabali ruled over in just two paces. For the third pace, Mahabali offered his head for Vishnu to step on. Thereby sending him to patala (denotes the hidden realms of the universe – which are located under the earth). Vishnu awarded him a boon, by which Mahabali could visit again, once every year, the lands and people he previously ruled. This revisit marks the festival of Onam, as a token of the right rule and his humility in fulfilling his promise before Vishnu.
Various Cultural Events
The celebrations record the Malayalam New Year, are spread over ten days, and end with Thiruvonam. The first and the last day are especially prominent in Kerala and to Malayalee communities elsewhere.
Various cultural activities are associated with Onam; such as Pookkalam (Flower Carpet), Pulikali (tiger dance), Vallamkali (boat race), Onam Sadhya and more.
A festival which is equally celebrated by Muslims as well as Christians, though a Hindu festival, non-Hindu communities of also participate in Onam celebrations acknowledging it as a cultural festival.
For the last two year, Onam for Keralites is a bit gloomy. The natural disasters, such and flood and soil erosion, happened during this time and people set back themselves from celebrating it in grand. However, this festival said to call out the prosperity of land which was once ruled by a great Kind.
Festivals in India holds extreme power in bringing people together and make them stay connected with each other. In recent times the social unity is something which seems to have loosened its grip hope this festival of Onam brings people closer.