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Onam Harvest Festival of Kerala

Onam is most prevailing festival in Kerala, Onam is considered as harvest festival of Gods own country. The Carnival of Onam lasting for ten days, although major celebration has been conducting on last four days. Onam celebrating in the beginning month of Malayalam colander called Chingam-usually between August and September.

Final day of Onam 'Thiruvonam' is celebrated as homecoming of legendary King 'Mahabali'. Celebration usually starts from 'Atham' first day of Onam and end up by 'Thiruvonam'. Beautifully decorated Pookalam, Onasadya(banquet), breathtaking Snake Boat Race and exotic Kaikottikali dance are some of the most significant celebrations of Onam - the harvest festival in Kerala.

On Thiruvonam People of Kerala usually wear new clothes, decorate their houses and put flower carpet known as 'Pookalam' in front of their houses, to welcome the King Mahabali.The tradition of buying and wearing clothes for 'Thiruvonam' is locally familiar as 'Onakkodi'. Lamps are lightning on major temples on days of this festival.

As a part of local culture of various places of Kerala, people indulge in various traditional art forms like Pulikkali (Tiger Dance), Sing Onnappattu (Onam Songs), Tiruvathura kali (dance) and many more.
Myth behind Mahabali and his Kingdom is recited by elders to children in this season. Most popular story behind Onam is Mahabali had become a devotee of lord Vishnu. The story goes that the beautiful state of Kerala was once ruled by an Asura (demon) king, Mahabali. The King was greatly respected in his kingdom and was considered to be wise, judicious and extremely generous. It is said that Kerala witnessed its golden era in the reign of King Mahabali.

By looking at the rising popularity and eminence of King Mahabali Gods became extremely concerned and desirous. They felt in danger about their own superiority and began to think of a strategy to get free of the dilemma. It was understood Mahabali was very generous and charitable. At any time anybody approached him for help or requested for help he constantly granted wish. To test the King, Lord Vishnu hidden himself as a dwarf and a poor Brahmin child known as Vamana. He came to the Kingdom of Mahabali, just after Mahabali performed his morning prayers and was preparing to grant boons to Brahmins.
Disguised as Vamana, Vishnu said he was a poor Brahmin and asked for a piece of land. The Brahmin said that he just wanted as much land as could be covered by his three steps. The King was surprised to hear but granted.
Shukracharya (A learned adviser of the King) sensed that Vamana was not an ordinary person and warned the King against making the promise. But, the generous King replied that it would be a sin for a King to back on his words and asked the Brahmin to take the land. The King could not imagine that the dwarf Brahmin was Lord Vishnu himself.

Just as King Mahabali agreed to give the land, Vamana started to expand and finally enlarged himself to the size of huge size. By his first step Vamana roofed the whole of earth and with the next step he covered the whole of the skies. He then asked King Mahabali where the space for him to keep his third foot is.Mahabali with folded hands bowed before Vamana and asked him to place his last step on his head so that he could keep the promise. The Brahmin placed his foot on the head of the King, which pushed him to 'patala'.
The King was emotionally involved with his Kingdom and people that he appealed that he be allowed to visit Kerala once in a year. Lord Vishnu was moved by the Kings nobility and was pleased to grant the wish.

Read More: Major Festivals of God's Own Country Kerala
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