The Story of King Mahabali explains the legend of Mahabali and Vamana Avatara of Lord Vishnu. Onam is celebrated to commemorate the visit of King Mahabali annually to see the happiness and prosperity of his beloved people.
King Mahabali the Asura King reigned during the golden era of the State of Kerala. It was a period of prosperity and happiness. The King was venerated by his people for his virtues.
Over a period of time the King became egoistic and this led to Lord Vishnu taking the avatar of the Brahmin Vamana to Vamana, King Mahabali granted three paces. Vamana as Vishnu placed the first and second pace on the earth and the heaven, for the third pace he placed it on the head of King Mahabali and sent him under the earth.
Being a devotee of Vishnu, King Mahabali was granted the boon of coming back every year to his beloved land and see his subjects living happily and prosperously. This annual visit of Mahabali is celebrated as Onam year on year. People make all efforts to celebrate Onam festival in a grand manner and impress upon their dear King that they are happy and remember him on this happy day.
This custom of making the mats of flowers are meticulously followed for the entire period of Onam, starting the first day- Atham and take the final shape on the penultimate day of Thiruvonam. The designs are worked on a basic structure and become larger and more complex, as the festival proceeds finally taking the shape of a huge work of art. This work of creation is a challenge in innovation each of the ten days.