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Why Onam is Celebrated ? Lord Vishnu disguised himself as a poor dwarf Brahmin – Vamana.

The beautiful state of Kerala was once ruled by an Asura king, Mahabali or Maveli. Though an asura, Maveli was wise and generous. Everybody was happy in his kingdom. With the growing popularity of asura king Maveli, Gods felt threatened. They sought the help of Lord Vishnu.

Lord Vishnu disguised himself as a poor dwarf Brahmin – Vamana. Vamana came to Mahabali and asked for a piece of land – just as much he could cover with three steps. The generous King  granted this request.  With his first step, Vamana covered the whole of earth, with the second step the skies. He then asked King Mahabali where to keep the third step?

Mahabali with folded hands bowed and asked him to place his last step on his head. Vamana placed his foot on the head of Maveli which pushed him to Patala.  However, Lord Vishnu granted a boon to Mahabali.

Maveli requested that he be allowed to visit Kerala once in a year. The day of the visit of King Mahabali to Kerala is celebrated as Onam.  Malayalees decorate their home with pookkalam – the floral rangoli and prepare a traditional feast eaten on a banana leaf. Women dressed in settu mundu – perform the kaikottikkali in their courtyards. Groups come together to compete in the boat race or vallamkali in the backwaters.  There are also cultural performances like pulikkali and kummatti kali.

May we all be blessed with the prosperity and piety of the eternal Lord Vishnu devotee – Maveli. Happy Onam.

About the Author

Priya Vasudevan, HR Professional, the author works in the areas of gender issues, organization development and  social transformation.

The author can be followed on Twitter @uniquepv

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