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 2024 Beginning Date – 5 September 2024
Onam 2024 Last Date- 17 September 2024
It is a homecoming festival on occasion 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.
The History Behind Celebrating Onam
Onam is a vibrant festival that people in the Indian state of Kerala look forward to all year. It’s not just a time for fun, but it also has a rich history that takes us back thousands of years. Today, let’s dive into the story behind Onam and discover why it’s so special.
A Festival of Joy and Harvest
Onam marks the start of the harvest season. It’s a time when farmers thank nature for the bountiful harvest. This festival lasts for ten days and fills the air with joy and excitement. Everywhere you look, you can see colorful flowers, delicious feasts, and people dressed in their best clothes.
The Legend of King Mahabali
The heart of Onam’s celebration is the legend of a kind and powerful king named Mahabali. He was a demon king, but unlike other demons, he was wise and loved by his people. His kingdom was known for its fairness and happiness. However, the gods felt threatened by his growing power and popularity.
Vishnu’s Clever Plan
To keep things balanced, Vishnu, one of the main gods, came up with a plan. He transformed into a dwarf named Vamana and visited King Mahabali. Vamana asked for three steps of land, to which the generous king agreed. But then, Vamana grew into a giant! In two steps, he covered the earth and the skies. For the third step, King Mahabali offered his head, showing his humility and devotion.
The Promise of Return
Impressed by Mahabali’s honesty and kindness, Vishnu granted him a wish. The king wished to visit his kingdom and people once a year. Vishnu agreed, and it’s believed that Onam is the day King Mahabali comes to visit. This is why people celebrate with so much excitement, preparing feasts and decorating their homes, to welcome their beloved king.
Celebrations of Onam
Onam brings everyone together, regardless of their religion or social status. People decorate their homes with flower carpets called “Pookalam,” and enjoy a grand feast known as “Onasadya.” There are also boat races, dance performances, and games that add to the festive spirit.
Why Onam Matters Today
Onam teaches us about kindness, fairness, and the joy of giving. It reminds us that good deeds are always remembered and celebrated. Even though it’s based on a legend, the values of Onam are very real and important in today’s world.
In conclusion, Onam is not just a festival; it’s a celebration of life’s good values. It’s a time when people come together to remember a golden era under King Mahabali’s rule, where everyone was happy and equal. By knowing the history behind Onam, we can appreciate it even more and keep its spirit alive in our hearts.