Onam Festival History and Celebrations

Onam Festival History and Celebrations


The festival of Onam is celebrated in Indian state of Kerala by Malayalees. Onam is celebrated according to the Malayalee Calender in the first month chingam that falls in the month of August. The festival of Onam in the state of Kerala the annual harvest festival that takes ten days of celebrations up to Tiruvonam.

Onam festival depicts the culture and tradion of Malayalee. This festival of Onam celebrations has two most important significances, the first it is celebrated as the harvest festival of the state which reminds the golden age of prosperity. The second significance is the most popularly legend demon king, Mahabali is related with this Onam festival and the people of Kerala observe the occassion in honour of the ancient demon king Mahabali.

Onam festival celebrations includes elaborate rituals, music, dances, sports and boat races. A Thiruvathira kali or the Onam dance form is performed around a lamp or a floral decoration by womenfolk, the dancers dressed in a white sarees move in a circular pattern to the tune of the Thiruvathira songs.

The festival of Onam is attached with several legends and stories from the past History:

Legend of King Mahabali:

Demon king Mahabali, was the grandson of Prahlad, the son of Hiranyakasipu who was slayed by Vishnu in his Narasimha Avatar.

Mahabali was highly regarded by his subjects and everybody was happy in his kingdom. King Mahabali used to worship Lord Vishnu.

With the growing popularity of Mahabali made Gods feel challenged and they seeked the help of Lord Vishnu who then incarnated in the form of a poor young Brahmin, called Vamana. The Bhramin boy went to king Mahabali and asked the king to give his three steps of land then immediately the King gave boons to the Brahmin.

Then Vamana increased in massive size, and covered the whole of the sky and earth with his two steps. Then Vamana asked the king for a place to put his third step, then the king Mahabali asked Vamana to put his third step on his head after realizing that the boy was not ordinary Brahmin. Then the Bhramin boy kept his third step on king’s head and pushed Mahabali in the nether world, the patala.

As king Mahabali was deeply attached with his people, the King said he would like to visit Kerala and his people every year. Lord Vishnu was pleased to grant the request. So Onam festival is celebrated as homecoming of King Mahabali.

Story of Boat Palliodam :

The festival of Onam is celebrated as a tradition of feeding a poor and needy family on this festive occasion. Once there was a wise man name Bhattathiripad was stuck in the middle of the river which was fully loaded with food. Then he came forward and fed a poor family who resided on the banks of the river. Then the boat moved forward. After this incident, the festival of Onam is celebrated helping poor and needy people on this day.

Legend of Vanishing Boy :

Once in the River Pampa, a Nambudiri family had a bath and performed prayers, then waited for long time to feed poor man but nobody has come. Tired Bhramin then prayed Lord Krishna closing his eyes. Immediately when he opened his eyes he saw a small boy front of him then the Brahmin gave a bath to the boy, a set of new clothes and a good meal.

After taking all the rituals the boy vanished, when the Bhramin looked for the boy, he found him near Aranmulla Temple and the boy disappeared again.

Then the Brahmin realizes that the boy was not an ordinary boy and was God himself. From then, every year during Onam the Brahmin brought food to Aranmulla Temple.