Thiruvonam is finally here! Putting an end to 10-days of festivities, Thiruvonam is here. Onam is celebrated to mark the Harvest season, and also to welcome the mythical king Mahabali is regarded as the best ruler the state has ever seen. History has it that Mahabali was an Asura (or Devil) and he ruled over all the three worlds, including the Devas. Annoyed by this, the Devas approached Lord Vishnu for help. It is said that Lord Vishnu approached Mahabali in his Vamana avatar. Mahabali was performing a Yagna at that time, and he had promised to fulfill the needs of any one approaching him. Taking advantage of the situation, Vamana said to Mahabali, "You need not give me anything great. It is enough if you give me that extend of land covered by three footsteps of mine".
Although Mahabali was warned by the sages performing the Yagna that Vamana was an avatar of a Deva and the statement was a trap. Mahabali, determined to keep up his promise, begged pardon from his Guru (among the sages) and disregarded his advice. On hearing this, Vamana grew in size until he towered above the heavens. He measured all of the earth with one Footstep. The second claimed all of heaven. With one more foot of territory still remaining, Mahabali requested Vamana to place the final step on his head as the third step of land, since had no other territory left. Vamana did so and in doing so, pushed Mahabali down to Patala, the underworld.
As a parting blessing, Lord Vishnu allowed Mahabali to rule over the underworld, and also visit his subjects once every year. Anecdotal evidences show that Onam was celebrated in as early as 800 AD. Onam is celebrated in the malayalam month of Chingam. Coincidentally, the Malayalam calender also starts with the month Chingam. Onam falls on the tenth day from the day, the star Atham is marked.
Onam is celebrated one and all in the state, irrespective of caste or religion. The spirit of the celebration is marked by Floral designs (like the one shown in the image above) and the sumptuous feast on Onam afternoon. There is a saying that one must have an Onam feast, even if that means one should sell his property. The other ancillaries of the festival are traditional dances and certain processions across the state. Before I end this long post, that would not be providing much of the history...
to all Keralites
to all Keralites