Onam is the festival celebrated with reminiscence with regard to the glorious rule of king Mahabali who was embodiment of sacrifice, devotion and charity. It is one of the most well known festivals of India.
The story of the king goes thus: Though a man of virtues the king gives way to an inflated ego as a byproduct of his generosity. Being an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu , the Lord with his abundant mercy seeks to redeem him from the clutches of his ego which is the obstacle barring the King's ultimate redemption. So Lord Vishnu assumes the form of a dwarf Brahmin and claims three paces of his foot. The proud king seeks to grant the claim but is unable to materialize the wish of the Brahmin as the Brahmin takes a gigantic form to cover the earth with his first foot step and the skies in his second step and the king by then who had figured out that it was none other than his Beloved lord offers his head in submission to the Lord's feet fro His third step.
The metaphorical meaning reveals that virtues only aid in attaining realization but not an end in itself. It is the surrender of one's ego that is realization.
Onam is an occasion of revelry for the people of kerala irrespective of caste or creed. A festival of prayer and rejoicing Onam gives vent to the creative aspect of one's personality revealing itself in flowerbed decorations called Pookalam. Placing earthen mounds in the courtyard symbolizing Lord Vishnu and King Mahabali and the spread of a lavish feast called Sadhya falls into the ritualistic order in celebrating Onam.
The entertainment aspect includes the parade of caparisoned elephants and the native Kathakali dance and the enrapturing boat race called Vallamkali with the oars men rowing the boat attuned to the drum beats and the cymbals that takes place in places like Karivatta, Payippad, Aranmula and Kottyam attract a lot of tourists . These boats are called Chundans owing to their long snake like appearance with long hulls and stems resembeling that of a snake's hood. Other small boats like Odis, Churlans and Veppus are also used in water crafts.
The government of Kerala has termed the season of festivity as the Tourism week as it is the appropriate time attract attention to the evergreen land drawing in people from other parts also thereby seeking to diminish the line of diversities.