Onam-Harvest festival
Onam festival is popularly celebrated in Kerala, India by the Malayali people. It is celebrated by all the communities without any discrimination regarding caste and religion. Onam festival is considered as the ‘harvest festival’ of Southern India. This festival marks the arrival of the King Mahabali. As per the legend, King Mahabali comes every year on this day to see whether people are living in a cheerful way. It is celebrated for ten days in the Chingam Month (Aug-Sep) and each day has a name- Atham, Chithira, Vishakam, Anizam, Thriketa, Moolam, Pooradam, Uthradom and Thiruvonam. This year, Onam festival falls on Monday 4th September.
Ten days of Onam celebration
Onam festival begins with Pookalam-a kind of rangoli made using flower petals. Games played by the people during Onam festival are called ‘Onakalikal’. The games include vadamvali, Kabaddi, Archery etc. A snake boat race is popularly performed throughout the festival and it is called as Vallamakali. Kaikotti Kali is the one of the dance form performed by the young women of Kerala. Another important part of the Onam festival is Onam Sadya. It is organized on the seventh day of Onam. The grand feast includes 12 to 15 vegetable dishes and sweet dishes. This day is also called as ‘Second Onam’.
Onam celebration end by the Thiruvonam day. The two days following Thiruvonam day, celebrated as Third Onam & Fourth Onam. The third Onam is called as Avvittom and it is believed that King Mahabali return back to heaven after Onam. So, the idol of Onathappan is immersed in river or sea. On this day, the famous Lion masked dance (Pulikali) is held in Thrissur city. The fourth Onam is called as Chatayam. On this day, Mega dance festival is performed in Thiruvananthapuram, capital city of Kerala.
Significance of Onam
Onam celebration begins during the Sangam Period. Record of celebration can be found from the time of 800 AD. As per the stories, Kerala was ruled by King Mahabali, the demon king who was a good ruler. King Mahabali was very bountiful and benevolent. People was happy and prosperous in the kingdom and Mahabali was highly regarded by his subjects. King Mahabali’s popularity made Gods jealous and they approached God Vishnu to eliminate their threat.
Vamana, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu- a dwarf and a poor Brahmin. Vamana came to the Mahabali Kingdom and asked to grant him land covered by his three feet. King Mahabali granted the boon. Suddenly, Vamana started growing in size and his first feet covered the earth and the second feet covered the sky. There is no place for the third feet, King Mahabali offer his head to land the third feet, thus burying himself into the nether world. Lord Vishnu granted him a boon for all the good deed done by him that he could visit his people annually.
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