First Onam 2024

14 September 2024
Kerala    Regional holiday

Onam is a festival celebrated by the Malayali speaking population of Kerela, India. It is a harvest festival of Kerela that lasts for about ten days. Official regional holidays are given on Onam eve to Third Onam. The festival falls during the Malayalam month of Chingam which usually falls in August or September and marks the annual homecoming of the mythical King Mahabali who the Malayalees consider as their King. The legend believes King Mahabali, also known as Bali was an Asura ruler during Hindu antiquity who was so powerful and adored by his subjects, that the followers of Hindu god Vishnu feared that Bali was getting more popular than their deity.

Vishnu disguised himself as a dwarf called Vamana. Vamana tricked Bali by asking for a piece of land he could cover in only three strides. When Bali agreed to this modest request by a dwarf, Vamana turned into a giant and his first step covered the earth and the second took him to heaven. With nothing else to offer, Bali offered his head as the third step. Vamana stepped on Bali pushing him down into the underworld. Bali asked if he could be allowed to return once a year on Thiruvonam, the second day of Onam, to visit his people to make sure they were well, and Vamana agreed. The people of Kerela welcome Bali home for his annual visit and clean their homes and make elaborate floral displays called Pookkalam on the ground like a carpet to welcome Bali. They perform Kathakali, one of the major forms of classical Indian dance. Other events include boxing competitions, featuring Thallu, a martial art native to Kerala and snake-boat races which are held at Champakulam, Aranmula, and Kottayam. The boats have a high narrow stern that is similarto the neck of a snake and some are up to 130 feet long and need over 100 rowers.