Onam is the biggest festival in the
Indian state of Kerala.
Onam Festival falls during the Malayali month of
Chingam (Aug - Sep) and marks the homecoming of legendary King Mahabali.
Carnival of Onam lasts for ten days and brings out the best of Kerala
culture and tradition. Intricately decorated Pookalam, ambrosial Onasadya,
breathtaking Snake Boat Race and exotic Kaikottikali dance are some of the
most remarkable features of Onam - the harvest festival in Kerala. Best
of Season and Weather
Onam is also a harvest festival. It is
celebrated at a time when everything appears so nice and good. The beautiful
landscape of Kerala can be seen in its full radiance at this time of the
Malayalam New Year. Weather, it seems, also seeks to be a part of the
festival. It contributes by becoming pleasantly warm and sunny. Fields look
brilliant with a bountiful harvest. Farmers feel on top of the world as they
watch the result of their hard labour with pride. Children's
Joy and Homecoming
Children eagerly wait for the arrival of the
carnival. Why shouldn't they. It is time for them to get new clothes, toys
and everything else they asked for or thought of. Numerous uncles, aunts and
grandmas grace their wishes with delight. It is also a time for homecoming
for people staying away from the families. Their arrival multiples the joy
of the festival several folds. Welcoming a Very
Onam awaits one very special visitor, Kerala's most
loved legendary King Maveli. He is the King who once gave the people a
golden era in Kerala. The King is so much attached to his kingdom that it is
believed that he comes annually from the nether world to see his people
living happily. It is in honour of King Mahabali, affectionately called
Onathappan, that Onam is celebrated.
Womenfolk make special
arrangements to welcome Onathappan. Flower carpets are laid in the front
courtyards with dedication and full sincerity. A grand meal is prepared on
the day of Thiru Onam. It is on this day that Maveli's spirit visits Kerala.
Lip smacking meal consists of best of Kerala cuisine including avial,
sambhar, rasam, parippu and the payasam.Cultural
One of the most marvelous facets of Onam is the
unfolding of its rich and well-established culture. We see not just glimpses
but a whole gamut of it in the ten-day-long carnival. Pulikali,
Kaikottikali, Kummattikalli, Kathakali, Thumbi Thullal besides several other
folk arts and traditions can be seen on one platform called Onam. Legends
The most known legend is that of Mahabali, the grandson
of Prahalad, who was the ruler of all the three worlds after defeating the
Devtas or devas. While performing the Yagna, it was declared by him that he
would give anything that is asked for during this Yagna. This was not liked
by Gods and they approached Vishnu for his help to dethrone Mahabali.
At this point of time there is very well known legend of Lord Vishnu
incarnated in the form of Vamana, a dwarf to defeat the Daityas, he reached
the place where the Yagna was organised. He was received by the king
Mahabali with all the traditional honours and was asked to tell his desire
and was given the commitmet by the king to fulfill it. Vamana asked for the
land covered by three footsteps of him. Mahabali was told by his advisors
that the Vaman is no ordinary person and he has come here intentionally to
take away all the holdings of the King. Mahabali was told not to fulfill the
demand of the Vamana but Mahabali was the king who would never like to go
back on his promises. He told Vamana that he would honour his demand.
Hearing this, Vaman grew enormously in size.
The whole of earth
was measured by his one foot and with his second foot he claimed all of
heaven. For the third footstep, Vaman was offered the head of Mahabali by
the king. By seeing the devotion of Mahabali, Lord Vishnu granted him the
premission to visit his devotees once every year. From then onwards, Onam is
celebrated in memory of King Mahabali who has gone against all odds to keep
up his promises and is known for the great sacrifice done by their emporer .
The jubilant celebrations of Onam
festival in India are marked by special boat races. The bank of river Pamba
at Aranmulla attracts large crowds for the annual snake boat races. The
precincts of the Krishna temple on the river bank reverberate with the
shouts of the cheering crowd.
Every village along the river owns a
boat and has a specialised crew to steer it. Dressed in white dhotis and
turbans, they participate in the boat race. The boatmen row their boats with
rhythmic movements to the accompaniment of drum beats and special boat