Onam Festival The History Behind Celebrating Onam

Onam Festival | The History Behind Celebrating Onam

Onam- the festival of joy and happiness in Kerala

Onam is a harvest festival in Kerala, India. It is a colourful festival celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm by Malayalees( natives of Kerala). This auspicious festival lasts for ten days from the day of Onam to the day of Thiruonam, but the main festival accounts for three days.

The word Onam originated from the Sanskrit word Shravanam which refers to one of the 27 Nakshatras or constellations.

The date of the festival is based on the Panchangam which falls on the 22nd nakshatra Thiruvonam in the month Chingam of the Malayalam calendar, which in the Gregorian calendar falls between August–September.

Onam 2022 Beginning Date – 30 August 2022

Onam 22 Last Date- 8 September 2022

It is a homecoming festival on account of the return of the legendary king Mahabali or Maveli to Earth every year. As the name itself makes it clear the king was one of the strongest of his time and ruled Kerala for a long extended period.

King Mahabali/ Maveli was a demon king but was loved by the people of Kerala. The King was the great-grandson of demonic king Hrinakashyapa and grandson of Lord Vishnu devotee Prahlada. King Mahabali is believed to be a benevolent king who loved his people and provided them with all the necessities of life in abundance. He also ensured that everyone had equal opportunity to grow and prosper in their chosen fields and trades.

The festival is celebrated in the Malayalam calendar month of Chingam.

The Carnival of Onam festival 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.

History Behind Celebrating Onam

According to sources and facts, it is said that the demon King Mahabali with his strength defeated gods and took over three worlds. This was the reason that God resented him. King Mahabali was a great worshipper of Lord Vishnu.

Therefore, the gods visited Lord Vishnu and asked him for help to take down King Mahabali. Lord Vishnu was not sure of what side to choose. He told the Gods that he won’t fight the King but would help them in some other way. Hence, he took Vamana avatar (i.e. a poor brahmin) and visited King Mahabali.

As Mahabali was a loving and benevolent king, the Vamana convinced the King to agree to his wishes. He asked the King for property rights over a land piece that measures three paces and King Mahabali couldn’t deny him. Later, the Vamana took up his original size and covered everything that the ruler had. Vamana started to grow in size and his first feet covered the Earth and his second feet covered the sky. For the third feet no place was left, and then Mahabali requested Vamana to place the third foot on his head, thus, burying himself in the underworld.

The Lord was so impressed by his gesture that he allowed the King to visit his people once a year on earth. Therefore, the people of Kerala started celebrating his return to earth every year as a festival named Onam.

On the other hand, Onam is famous for being called a harvest festival in Kerala.

It is so because Onam spreads a new regeneration in nature. The flowers start shooting up, the trees start blooming, and you can easily relate to this time as European Spring In Kerala.

Therefore, you can conclude Onam as one of the happiest, most cheerful and restful times for the people of Southern India.