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Why Do We Celebrate Onam: No. 1 Powerful Story of Legendary King Mahabali’s

Onam is a very prominent festival celebrated in Kerala. It is generally celebrated in August or early September. It is the festival that celebrates the homecoming of legendary king Mahabali. King Mahabali is one of the most fascinating and popular legends. Under his reign, it was believed that everyone used to be happy. Also, he used to treat everyone equally. During this festival, the entire Kerala is decorated with lights and flowers.

Onam is celebrated according to the Malayalam calendar. It is celebrated in the month of Chingam. This starts in Atham and is celebrated for 10 days till Ponnonam. Onam is one the most popular and main festivals of Kerala. It is also known as the harvest festival.


As per local mythology, Kerala was once ruled by King Mahabali. King Mahalali was a demon (asur) but was still known for his generosity and benevolence. His rule can be remembered as the golden era. Under his reign everyone was happy. There were no sufferings of poverty and depression among people. Even there was no crime and corruption. He was known for treating everyone equally.

Mahabali took over three worlds by defeating god. It was believed that gods were extremely jealous because of his popularity. His presence was becoming a threat to god’s supremacy. Thus, Lord Vishnu was asked to help other gods by defeating him.

Mahabali was a devotee of lord Vishnu. He was very kind and charitable. Lord Vishnu took Vamana Avtar ( a poor Brahmin) to test his kindness. Vamana asked him for a piece of land measuring his three steps.

The Vamana avatar grew the size of his footsteps. It covered everything that belonged to King in just two steps. For the remaining third step, Mahabli offered his head to Vamana. Due to his kind gesture, lord Vishnu was impressed. Thus, he allowed him to come to earth once in every year. Hence, this day is celebrated as the festival of Onam.

In which district is Onam celebrated?

Onam is celebrated in the entire Kerala with great enthusiasm. Variations could be seen depending upon specific traditions and customs locally in Kerala. This festival is celebrated by families and communities with super energy. This festival remembers the great king Mahabali and creates a good vibe. Some places in Kerala hold grand celebrations. They have unique cultural events. Example- In Thrissur district, a Famous tiger dance is performed called pulikali. Elephant processions are also done. The festival is celebrated with great energy in the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram.

How many days Onam is celebrated in Kerala?

Onam goes on for 10 days in Kerala. It created a joyful and cheerful environment all around the state. Each day holds its importance as it is the major festive of Kerala. Finally, it culminated in a grand feast on Thiruvonam.

Can Muslims celebrate Onam?

There are different perspectives on this. Let’s have a look at this

Religious Viewpoint

As Onam Is a non-Islamic festival. Some interpretations believe that performing it can be ‘haram’ (forbidden). This is because of the myths and rituals involved in Onam.

Cultural Viewpoint

Many Muslims look at this festival from a cultural viewpoint. They may enjoy wearing new clothes and participating in the ceremonies. They also enjoy the Onasandhya feast and cultural programs. This shows the spirit of social harmony

Personal Choice

There is no such restriction regarding its celebration based on religion. Ultimately, it is the personal choice. One can celebrate it fully or can be unresponsive.

Here are some additional points to consider:

Local Traditions

Kerala has a rich tradition of social harmony. Many Muslim families participate in celebrating Onam with great energy. They celebrate it with their Hindu neighbors. This shows the spirit of togetherness among them.

Respectful Participation

Every religious practice has its own significance. Muslims can choose to celebrate Onam. They can have a respectful participation. Onan basically belongs to Kerala. Different traditions might have different interpretations of the same. In the general sense, it depends upon the personal choice. There is no particular answer as to whether Muslims should perform it or not.


why Onam is celebrated for 10 days

The reasons behind it are as follows:

Gradual Arrival of Prosperity

These ten days bring prosperity and abundance to Kerala. It is in the harvest season when the crops get ready and the rain stops. It brings peace and a soothing environment

Preparations and Festivities

People prepare for the finale in the initial days. They clean their houses and create pookalams. They plan broadly for the Onasadhya feast. Practicing these tasks for 10 days creates an enjoyable environment all around.

Mythological Significance

It is believed that Mahabali takes 10 days to return to earth. Each day represents a stage of his return. Finally on Thiruvonam people will reunite with him.

Celebration of Different Aspects

Various aspects of Onam are highlighted in 10 days. There are some cultural performances on some specific days. Onam allows different expressions and traditions to merge.

Festive Build-Up: These 10 days build a sense of excitement among people

Every day creates excitement for the grand finale day. Onam creates a joyful environment. Harvest and Mahabali’s return are the core reasons for the celebration. It also created a sense of togetherness and positivity. It includes a wide range of cultural expressions and led to a grand day.

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People of Kerala enjoy Onam by doing various practices. They wear traditional clothes and decorate their homes. They also prepare grand feasts. Being a rice harvest festival, Onam has 10 days of celebration which has its own significance.

People also visit temples in large numbers on the occasion of Thiru-Onam. It is the most auspicious day of the 10-day-long festival.

Pookkalam is one of the characteristic features of the festival. It is the floral designs made by people in their homes for decorations. People follow different patterns and designs for the same. They also light lamps to welcome King Mahabali to their houses.

They serve a multi-course meal in banana leaves which is called sadya. This is the specialty of this festival. The sadya is comprised of rice along with papad, pickles, and a sweet dish. This sweet dish is called payasam. On the occasion of Onam people also participate in the boat race. The boat race is called Vallam Kali. Thus, onam can be characterized as a festival of harvest, king, and culture.

The 10-day-long festival is the highlight of Kerala. People decorate with light, and flowers and make the days so joyous. This period brings everyone together irrespective of their religion. This brings social harmony and togetherness. But why Onam is celebrated, let’s go into the deep details for the same.

A Celebration of Bountiful Harvest

Onam comes with great prosperity to people. As the monsoon is receding there is a huge rice production in Kerala. The farmers of Kerala celebrate their hard work during Onam. Hence this is why it is called the harvest festival. People become happy with the surplus production of rice and celebrate. So, they also welcome Goddess Lakshmi and decorate their homes. They light up their homes and prepare pookkalam. People use different kinds of seasonal flowers. They use hibiscus, chrysanthemums, and sacred blue butterfly plea flower. These are also offered to Goddess Lakshmi.

The Return of the Benevolent King Mahabali

Onam is celebrated in welcoming of King Mahabali. As he was very kind, and charitable during his reign. His age was also remembered as the golden age. Although he was a demon he brought prosperity and happiness among the people of Kerala. Lord Vishnu tested Kind Mahabali about his kindness. He was able to satisfy Lord Vishnu. Since then he has been allowed to return to earth on the land of Kerala. This day is celebrated as Onam.

A Time for Family, Feasts, and Festivities

Onam is the time of family and community togetherness. People decorate their homes with pookkalam and clean their houses. Families spent time with each other. Different kinds of activities are performed in these 10 days of the festival. They also prepare multi-course meals called Onasadhya. It is vegetarian and served on banana leaves. Onasadhya is a combination of various regional dishes. This includes sambar, thoran, and payasam.

People also perform various activities. Tiger dance and boat races (Vallam kali) are the highlights. They also go for cultural performances. They enjoy their traditional dance kathakali. There are also snakeboat races and martial arts demonstrations. Vibrant elephant processions are also done.

Beyond Mythology: A Celebration of Harmony

However, Onam is celebrated for the mythological reason. The return of King Mahabaliis the core of this festival. But we can go beyond this. As festivals brighten the day and bring enthusiasm. People meet, and spend time with each other. This festival brings prosperity and a feeling of abundance among people. People from all walks of life celebrate this festival. This festival goes beyond the religious boundary. This represents the unity of India.

Conclusion: The Enduring Legacy of Onam

Onam is a great festival for Keralites. It creates positive vibes among people. People do a variety of activities in these days. They love, connect, and dance together. This festival highlights the culture of Kerala. The Onam festival is the coming of good times in Kerala.

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Q: When is Onam celebrated?

Onam starts in the Month of Chingam according to the Malayalam calendar. So, as per the Gregorian calendar, it lines up with August and September. The accurate day may vary each year based on the lunar calendar.

Q: What is the significance of Pookkalam ?

 Pookkalam is part of the decoration done for the Onam festival. Pookkalam are floral designs made with different seasonal flowers. These flowers are also used to make offerings to goddess Lakshmi and king Mahabali.

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