Onam, the Harvest Festival


by Ananya Ramesh


Onam is the harvest festival of Kerala. It is celebrated in the month of September. It is believed that Onam celebrates the return of King Mahabali. King Mahabali ruled over Kerala and during his reign, there was peace and prosperity everywhere. There were no quarrels, cheating or dishonesty. People lived in comfort and pleasure. It is believed that the gods became jealous of him and so Lord Vishnu took the form of Vamanan and went to Mahabali and asked for three feet of land. The generous king readily agreed. Suddenly Vamanan grew large in size and he covered the whole of Kerala with two steps. Mahabali bowed before the Lord who put his foot on the king's head. Thus Mahabali was pushed into the underworld. He requested Lord Vishnu to permit him to come and visit his people once a year. People believe that the king comes back once every year to visit  them on Onam. The day is thus celebrated with great pomp and show.

Decorated elephants are taken out in a procession. Boat racing is the main attraction of Onam. Special boats called snake boats take part in these races. People light brass lamps in their houses. Flowers are arranged in beautiful designs and patterns in courtyards. The presence of joy and serenity fills the hearts of the people. Thus, Onam is an important festival of Kerala.