One of the most primeval Hindu festivals that are celebrated even today with a lot of gusto and fervor apart from immense devotion is the Onam festival. It is one of the most well known and well-preferred festivals of the people living in the southern state of Kerala on the eastern coast of India.
This Hindu festival of Onam is celebrated for a period of ten days annually is also well known as the harvesting festival of the state of Kerala. This ostentatious festival is celebrated during the Malayalam month of Chingam which falls between the month of August and September every year. The first day of the festival is known as Atham while the last and final day of the celebration is called Thiruvonam.
Legend has it that Onam is celebrated to mark the homecoming of King Mahabali, the legendary king who ruled Kerala during the ancient period which was believed to be the golden age of Kerala when people were free from harm and a total prosperity and harmony prevailed throughout the land where people were happy and absolutely free from any peril or danger. It was when Vamana, an avatar of Lord Vishnu thrust King Mahabali to the inner depths of the earth. Vamana when impressed by the liberality and the sincerity of King Mahabali offered him a wish to visit his kingdom and meet his subjects once every year.
It is the homecoming of the King Mahabali to his kingdom when people adorn their houses laying out flower carpets known as ‘Pookalam’ in front of their homes to welcome back the illustrious King Mahabali. People wear new clothes and special prayers are offered early in the morning when the youngsters receive blessings and gifts from the elder members of the family.