TNI Bureau: The festive mood is in the air with the celebration of Onam, the rice harvest festival. The Keralites are preparing sweet and mouth-watering dishes to celebrate the festival today.
The festival marks the traditional aspect of the Malayalam culture. People are found decorating their homes with flowers, keeping no class, caste and religion differences in their mind to welcome the mythological character demon (Asura) King Mahabali, who was pressed into the netherworld (patal) by Vamana- the dwarf, an incaranation of Lord Vishnu.
Mahabali – grandson of Prahlad – was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu, but boasted of being called the biggest donor in the world. As Lord Vishnu never tolerates ego and pride of his devotees, he had to take incarnation of a Brahmin Vamana (dwarf) and stepped in to the King Mahabali. He asked for three steps of land when the king was conducting a powerful Yajna. As he never says ‘no’ to anyone to give anything, he suddenly agreed to donate three steps of land to the disguised Lord despite his Guru Shukra Acharya insisted that the Brahmin was Lord Vishnu.
However, the King had committed to give three steps of land to the Lord. When he gave one step of land, the Vamana’s little feet occupied the earth, in second step, entire universe was captured. The helpless King offered himself to the Lord for third step. Lord pressed his almighty foot on Bali’s head and pushed him into the nether world.
Being pleased with his life sacrifice, Bali, who kept up his word, was allowed to visit his land once a year. The day when Bali used to visit his homeland is celebrated as Onam. The festival symbolizes self surrender, sacrifice, and crushing of ego that lead to salvation.
It is also called the harvest festival, which is celebrated for 10 days with Pookalam, the multicoloured flower arrangements, Vallamkali, the snake boat race, the procession of caprisoned elephants and various dance forms like Kaikotti Kali, Thumbi Thullal, Pulikali, Kaduvakali, Kathakali etc.
This year, the festival fell on August 29. Every year, People used to prepare delicious Kerala dishes in the morning and serve it on the banana leaf during evening. With friends and relatives, they used to perform all the rituals in a traditional way.