The Story Behind Onam
There was a demon king called Mahabhali who once ruled over Kerala. He was a very just, wise and respected king that had the love of all of his subjects. Due to this, his rule began to spread far and wide. Once Mahabhali’s rule extended to the heavens and the underworld, the gods started to get jealous because of his popularity and the power he possessed. They then turned to Vishnu for help.
Vishnu then transformed himself into a dwarf named Vamana. He approached Mahabali for alms who then granted him a wish. Sukracharya, who was Mahabhali’s preceptor realised this dwarf was no ordinary human and therefore warned Mahabali against granting the wish. Despite this Mahabali still keeps his word because he believes that there is no greater sin than going back on your promise. Vamana wishes to have the land that he could cover in three steps. Once Mahabali grants him his wish, Vamana starts to grow in size. With his first step he covered the sky, with his second step he covered the underworld. Having realised the the third step would destroy the world Mahabali offers his head in exchange. When He places his foot on Mahabali’s head, it pushes him into the underworld. But before this happens, Mahabali is granted a wish and this wish is that Mahabali gets to visit his people in Kerala once a year.
Onam is celebrated on the day Mahabali returns home and to remember his golden rule. This festival is celebrated during the month of the Malayalam New Year, which either falls in August or September for ten day.
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