Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about the Malayalam festival of Onam during his monthly ‘Mann Ki Baat’ session on Sunday. The PM said, “The zest of Onam has reached distant shores of foreign lands. Be it America, Europe or Gulf countries, the verve on Onam can be felt everywhere.
Onam is increasingly turning out to be an international festival.” The PM also explained how people celebrate the festival in the Malayalam month of Chingam. Today, on the joyous festival of Onam, read on to know more about it and why it is celebrated.
All about Onam
Onam is associated with the fifth avatar of Lord Vishnu, who appeared as Vamana (a dwarf) to end the rule of King Mahabali in the Treta Yuga. The Lord was born as Vamana, a short Brahmin boy to Aditi and Sage Kashyapa.
King Mahabali was the grandson of Prahlad (son of Hiranyakashipu, an Asura). Despite being born into a family of the Asuras (demons), both Prahlad and Mahabali were devotees of Lord Vishnu.
Mahabali was a very mighty warrior. Once during a battle against the Devas, he defeated Indra and went on to rule the Deva Loka. Therefore, to get his kingdom back, Indra pleaded to Lord Vishnu to intervene. Subsequently, Lord Vishnu appeared as Vamana in the court of Mahabali to test his devotion.
Apart from being an able ruler, Mahabali was also known for his magnanimity. Therefore, Lord Vishnu tricked him by posing as a poor boy. Click here for the full story of the Vamana Avatar of Lord Vishnu and what happened to Mahabali.
It is believed that King Mahabali visits his kingdom annually during Onam, and people celebrate to welcome him. Interestingly, Lord Vishnu blessed Mahabali with a boon that he could make a trip to the kingdom once annually from the Patala Loka.
Onam festivities begin in the first Malayalam month of Chingam when Atham/Hasta Nakshatra prevails. This is precisely 10 days before the actual date of Thiruvonam.
These days, Onam is observed with much zest and is celebrated over four days. People start with the day of Uthradom, followed by Thiruvonam, Avittom and Chatayam. Check out this link for the important days of Onam, 2020.
Onam festivities include making of flower rangolis (pookolam), Vallam Kali (boat race), Pulikali (tiger dance), Kai Kottu Kali (Onam dance), Kummattikali (mask dance) etc. And most importantly, Onam includes a feast called Sadhya that consists of over 26 recipes. Check out this link to know more about Onam Sadhya.
Onam is also considered as a harvest festival.
Onam is usually celebrated collectively by the people of Kerala, but this year, group celebrations shall not take place due to coronavirus pandemic.