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Onam is the annual harvest festival celebrated in the state of Kerala during the month of Chingam(August-September) in the first month of the Malayalam Calendar. Onam is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm all over the state by people of all communities. Onam celebrations include worshipping, music, folk dances, sports, boat races, and delicious foods.
This festival has two specific significances. One of them is, the celebration of the harvest and the other is remembering the glory of the legend Mahabali. People believe that Mahabali visits everyone's home during the Onam festival. They welcome the King Mahabali with beautiful Pookolams (Flower Decorations) in front of their homes.
The story behind Onam:
Once upon a time, there lived a king called Mahabali who ruled Kerala. He worshiped Lord Vishnu. Mahabali was a wise and generous ruler. He treated the rich and the poor equally. Needy People never returned empty-handed from his door. His fame and power extended to the netherworld and heaven. All the gods felt challenged and began to fear his growing powers. Aditi, the mother of Devas made an emotional appeal with Lord Vishnu to reduce Mahabali's powers.
Vishnu in the avatar of Vamana approached Mahabali while he was performing a yajna. Vamana said he was a poor Brahmin and asked for a piece of land. Mahabali said he could have as much land as he wanted. Vamana said he just wanted as much land as could be covered by his three steps. The King was surprised to hear and sensed that Vamana was not an ordinary person. But the king believes that it would be a sin for a King to back on his words and asked the Brahmin to take the land.
Vamana began to expand himself. His first step covered the earth, the second step covered the sky and he then asked the King where is space for him to keep his third foot. Mahabali knew that his third step can destroy the world and with folded hands bowed before Vamana and asked him to place his last step on his head so that he could keep his promise. Vamana placed his foot on the head of the King pushing him to the nether world. Lord Vishnu granted a boon to the King Mahabali for a Visit to Kerala.
Celebration of Onam:
It is one of the best times to visit Kerala during the Onam festival. This carnival lasts for four to ten days. Each day has a different name.
Some of the major attractions of the Onam celebration:
Onam is promoted internationally in a big way to celebrate 'Tourist Week' for Kerala during Onam celebrations. Thousands of tourists visit Kerala to be a part of Onam.
Festivals play a significant role in our day to day lives. We worship different Gods and accordingly there are different festivals that we celebrate to mark the occasion. Festivals provide us with an opportunity to spend quality time with our family, friends and relatives. There are so many rituals attached to the festivals and this makes the entire concept of celebration of festivals even more colorful & exciting.
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