The eventful Malayali rice harvest festival Onam is observed throughout Kerala. On Thursday, marking ThiruOnam, the second day of the Onam festival, people from all over the state celebrated it with traditional fervour, gaiety, and splendour.
Onam is marked by happiness, excitement and enjoyment among all sections of the people. It is celebrated with much fanfare not only in Kerala but by Malayalis across the world.
People outfitted in new attires visit temples and offer prayers early in the morning, all major temples, including the famous hill shrine of Lord Ayappa at Sabarimala, Sree Krishna Temple at Guruvayour and Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple witnessed a heavy rush of devotees
Onam is celebrated during the Malayalam month of ‘Chingam’, which falls in the period of August – September, and honours mythological King Mahabali – whose reign witnessed the golden era of Kerala. According to legends, the great king visits his subjects from the nether world on the day of ThiruOnam
Although the festival originated in Hindu tradition, people cutting across the religion celebrated the festival with equal fervour. People decorate their houses with beautiful floral carpets(Pookkalam). Sumptuous feasts (Onasadya) were also prepared on Thiruvonam day. Onam has been an occasion known for bringing family members together.
Onam Carnival lasts for 10 days. The first day, Atham is marked by floral carpets and pookalam, which is one of the most significant and popular parts of Onam celebrations. Dramatic decorations made of flowers are put on display in the front courtyard of the house. The design becomes more intricate and detailed as more flowers of different colours are added to this pookalam with each passing day.
The legend behind Onam is that once a demon king, Mahabali ruled Kerala. People were really happy under his rule, as he was very humble and just. But the Gods were upset with his popularity and approached Lord Vishnu for help, who later took the incarnation of ‘Vamana, one of the 10 avatars, to banish the king.
Lord Vishnu disguised himself as a dwarf and a poor Brahmin called Vamana went to the king and asked for a piece of land measuring three feet. The king readily agreed but little Vamana grew dramatically big and covered the kingdom in his first feet and the rest of the universe in second. With no space left for the third, Mahabali offered his head for it.
But before going to the nether world he asked Lord Vishnu for a boon to be allowed to visit his erstwhile people and country once every year to which Vishnu granted Mahabali the right to visit his people and his kingdom every year during Onam.