You could call it one of the most colourful festivals from the South of India. And the most fun. It certainly is the biggest festival in the state of Kerala.
Onam marks the homecoming of the legendary King Mahabali beloved of all his subjects.
In pre-historic times, it is said that Mahabali was such an excellent ruler that the Gods in the Indian pantheon particularly King Indra felt insecure about his rising popularity and prosperity. The Gods begged Lord Vishnu to kill Mahabali who appeared in his Brahmin dwarf (the Vamana) avatar and begged for alms from this great king and tricked him to the underworld.
Photo courtesy: Shantih on Flickr.
But the Lord Vishnu also blessed Mahabali as he was one of Vishnu’s greatest devotees. Hence Mahabali is allowed to visit his people in Kerala on an annual basis.
The festival lasts for ten days.
Characteristic Onam celebrations include the traditional pookolams (intricate flower carpets), the Onam sadya (an elaborate banquet lunch), Vallamkali (snake boat races) and kaikottikkali (dances that women of the house-hold indulge in) during the ten day festival.
Photo courtesy: Arun Kumar Sinha on Flickr.
What makes this festival truly unique is how it brings about secular sentiments within the state. Although the festival of Onam originated as a Hindu festival, all communities in Kerala including Muslims and Christians celebrate Onam with equal fervour.
Needless to say, we couldn’t let this festival pass by without any comment. I’m sure most Indians have a favourite memory associated with this festival.
Answer us or leave us a comment here.
Photo courtesy: Raj_nair81 on Flickr
And of course, Happy Onam!
- Community Manager