Onam, one of the major festivals for the people in Kerala falls on Saturday - August 26 this year. The festival marks the beginning of a new year for the Malayalees. However, this Onam, God’s Own Country was ravaged by huge flood deluge causing heavy loss. While hundreds lost their lives and properties, thousands are still being sheltered in relief camps. As Kerala is still trying to recover from the disaster, the arrival of Onam 2018 amid this chaos and tragedy, the day which signifies a new beginning cannot be any more suspicious a time to begin rebuilding lives and the state as a whole.
Onam is popularly known as the harvest festival of Kerala. According to the mythological tale, the festival celebrates the return of the demon King Mahabali to the land of coconut trees. The King is welcomed with a grand feast and fervour decorations. Mahabali is considered to be the most revered king among the folk. The era in which Mahabali ruled over Kerala is considered to be the Golden period.
According to the common folklore, Mahabali was disliked by the gods despite his kindness. They then went to Lord Vishnu to seek the Almighty's help in slaying the demon. Mahabali was Vishnu’s ardent devotee but the God agreed to help. Vishnu took the mythical ‘Vaaman’ (dwarf) avatar and asked the king for three wishes. Mahabali could not say no to a Brahmin and agreed to grant him the three wishes, without realising the truth. Vishnu asked for a piece of land that measured “three paces”.
Saying so, the vaaman avatar then grew up in size and covered every inch of King’s territory in only two steps. Mahabali was the man of his words and so he asked the Lord to place the third step on his head. By doing so, he sent the king into hellfire which removed him from the throne. However, the almighty was impressed by his devotion and granted him a boon of returning to his land once every year.
Onam is therefore considered to be a festival that celebrates the return of the one who has lost his land and home. This is all the more significant this year, as people in Kerala are still struggling to convalesce from their losses, rebuilding their country.
We wish the readers of News Nation a very Happy Onam. May this year bring good luck, prosperity, and a courage to rebuild your life on Panglossian pillars. Onam Ashamsakal!