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Lighthouse - September, 2011.

Onam

Onam is the largest festival in the Indian state of Kerala. It falls during the first month of the Malayalam calendar which is Chingam (August–September) and marks the homecoming of the legendary King Maveli. The festival lasts for ten days and is linked to many elements of Kerala’s culture and tradition. Intricate flower carpets, elaborate banquet lunch, snake boat races, Puli Kali, and the Kaikottikkali dance all play a part in the festival. It can be undoubtedly said that these elements constitute the diversity, richness and colorfulness that no other festival can claim in the world.


Onam is an ancient festival which still survives in the modern times. Kerala’s rice harvest festival and the festival of rain flowers which fell on the Malayalam month of Chingam celebrated the annual visit from the under world (Pathalam) of the very noble Demon King Maveli (Mahabali). Onam is unique since King Maveli is revered by people of Kerala from prehistory.


According to the legend, Kerala witnessed its golden era during the reign of King Mahabali. Everybody in the state was happy and prosperous and the king was highly regarded by his subjects. He was that much highly regarded among the subjects that even the Gods under Indra became jealous of Mahabali, they approached Mahavishnu claiming that Mahabali is now equivalent to an Indra. Since a world with two Indras represents imbalance, Mahavishnu assumed the form of a dwarf, the Vamana avatara and tricked him to Pathalam, the Underworld. However, as Mahabali is equal to an Indra, he is to wait until the next Yuga where he would be the Indra. In the meantime, with the grace of Mahavishnu, Mahabali visits his people on an annual basis. Mahavishnu serves Mahabali as a gatekeeper in the world of Pathalam as the Lord himself serves his greatest devotees.


The most important things about Onam are the onakkodi, the new clothes worn on this day and onam sadya, a feast which is quite elaborate. This is usually a feast served on banana leaves and serves rice along with an array of 18 to 32 dishes. Traditional pickles and papadam are also served. Dessert is usually ‘payasam’, a sweet dish made of milk, sugar and other traditional Indian savories.


One can assume this way too as this could be the only day that around 40 million people around the globe eat the same food with Joy and Happiness.


CSS Group Wishes you a wonderful Onam.

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