The Story Behind Onam Festival

Like all other festivals, Onam also carries various legends and traditional beliefs. Do you know what the story behind Onam festival is? Well, read on.

Onam is connected with King Mahabali and the golden era of his reign. The prominent story behind Onam is about King Mahabali and Vamanan (the incarnation of Lord Vishnu).

According to the story, King Mahabali is sent to another world called Pathala by Lord Vishnu's incarnation, Vamana.

Also Read: Legend Of King Mahabali: The Onam Story

It is believed that during Thiruvonam, the most important day among the 10 days of Onam, King Mahabali will come back to his homeland to see his people.

This legend of Onam is famous across the globe, as you can find many Malayalis around the world celebrating its significance.

The annual visit of Mahabali is celebrated as Onam. It is also considered as a festival of harvest and prosperity. After the rainy deprivation month of Karkidakam (July-August), Chingam will come with its pleasant enthusiasm.

There will be bright sunlight and colourful flowers blooming during this season. This makes pookalam or flower rangoli an important part of the Onam celebration.

One of the best parts of Onam is that it is celebrated by all people in Kerala, irrespective of caste and religion.

Now, let's have a look at the story behind Onam in detail.

The story behind Onam festival

Golden Era of Mahabali:
Long time ago, Kerala was ruled by King Mahabali who was wise, sagacious and warm-hearted. It is believed that the state enjoyed all prosperity during his reign. King Mahabali made sure that his subjects got everything they wanted. The story behind Onam begins from here, where the mankind had a better time.

The story behind Onam festival

Who Was Mahabali?
King Mahabali, according to the legend of Onam, is said to be the grandson of Prahalad and son of Veerochana, who were demons or asuras. So, Mahabali was an asura too, but he had no trait of it because he was fervid towards Lord Vishnu from his childhood. Due to the piety to Lord Vishnu, Mahabali attained power and strength.

The story behind Onam festival

Envious Gods:
The story behind Onam narrates the jealousy incidents of the Gods on Mahabali. As the popularity of the King increased, gods and goddesses thought this as a threat to their lordship. They began to think Mahabali as a rival and requested Lord Vishnu to help. Lord Vishnu was in dilemma first. But, when the gods and goddesses explained the threat, lord Vishnu agreed to help.

The story behind Onam festival

Vamana, The Dwarf Brahmin:
By turning to a poor dwarf Brahmin, Lord Vishnu, as Vamana, went to see King Mahabali. He requested Mahabali to give a small piece of land. Mahabali told him to take as much as he desires. But, Vamana told he needs only three feet of land.

Soon, Vamana increased in size and his first step covered the whole earth while his second the whole of skies. For keeping the promise, Mahabali bowed before the boy and asked him to place the feet on his head. Before doing so, Vamana revealed the truth that he is Lord Vishnu. So, Mahabali was pushed to the nether world with happiness.

Once In A Year Visit:
As a loving and caring ruler, Mahabali requested Lord Vishnu to allow him to visit his land and people. He wished to see his subjects once a year. Lord Vishnu granted the boon and was pleased by Mahabali for his love that he had towards his kingdom and people.

This is the story behind Onam, and every year Keralites welcome their king Mahabali with all enthusiasm and happiness.

Read more about: onam, festival, celebration
Story first published: Wednesday, September 14, 2016, 11:00 [IST]
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